By Adam Kimelman
NHL.com Staff Writer
Philadelphia Flyers coach John Stevens was involved in two Calder Cup championships with the Philadelphia Phantoms, one as a player and one as a coach.
In his office hangs one photo from the 2005 team, which he guided to the American Hockey League championship. He could have others, but the one he has in a prominent spot near his desk is the one that means the most to him.
It’s Ben Stafford, drenched in sweat, already wearing his championship cap, who scored the Cup-clinching goal that finished a sweep of the Chicago Wolves in the final.
“Ben’s one of those guys you have on your team you take for granted,” said Stevens, who spent six years with the Phantoms before taking over the Flyers in 2006. “I used to call him the Golden Citizen.”
Instead of the Golden Citizen — or “Ducky,” his nickname from his turn as an uncredited skater in the Mighty Ducks movie — friends can address him by his military rank.
After graduating Yale University, Stafford played pro hockey for four seasons, starting with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL. His 22 goals and 61 points in 58 games were second on the team, and earned him call-ups to the Phantoms, the Saint John Flames and Providence Bruins.
The next season, Stafford made the Phantoms out of training camp and stayed there for the next three seasons.
“He could play on your fourth line or your first line,” said Stevens, who took an immediate shine to Stafford. “He could play five minutes or 15 minutes and he was your best five-minute player or your best 15-minute player. He was willing to do whatever he could do to help the team.”