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Scott Stevens

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Title: Scott Stevens  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: List of NHL statistical leaders, Kitchener Rangers, 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs, 1999–2000 NHL season, Ken Daneyko
Collection: 1964 Births, Canadian Ice Hockey Defencemen, Conn Smythe Trophy Winners, Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees, Ice Hockey People from Ontario, Ice Hockey Players at the 1998 Winter Olympics, Kitchener Rangers Players, Living People, National Hockey League All-Stars, National Hockey League First Round Draft Picks, National Hockey League Players with Retired Numbers, New Jersey Devils Coaches, New Jersey Devils Players, Olympic Ice Hockey Players of Canada, Sportspeople from Kitchener, Ontario, St. Louis Blues Players, Stanley Cup Champions, Washington Capitals Draft Picks, Washington Capitals Players
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Scott Stevens

Scott Stevens
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2007
Stevens (right) with US President George W. Bush in 2003
Born (1964-04-01) April 1, 1964
Kitchener, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Washington Capitals
St. Louis Blues
New Jersey Devils
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 5th overall, 1982
Washington Capitals
Playing career 1982–2004

Ronald Scott Stevens (born April 1, 1964) is a retired professional ice hockey defenceman. Stevens played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues, and the New Jersey Devils. Although offensively capable, Stevens was largely known for his defensive play and his heavy body checking on opponents.

Stevens started his career with the Capitals, where he helped the team make the playoffs for the first time. After spending a season with the Blues, he was acquired by the Devils through arbitration. Personifying the team's defence-first mentality, he captained the Devils to four Stanley Cup Finals appearances in nine years, winning three of them. In 2000, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite his team success with the Devils, he never won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenceman. His career came to an end after a slapshot hit his head and caused post-concussion syndrome. He was later inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Stevens retired with the most games played by an NHL defenceman (1635 games), later to be passed by Chris Chelios. Stevens was also the youngest player in league history to reach 1,500 games played, playing in his 1,500th game at age 37 years, 346 days. He did not have a negative plus/minus in any of his 22 NHL seasons, and had the most penalty minutes of any player enshrined in the Hall of Fame until Chris Chelios was inducted in 2013.


  • Early life 1
  • Washington Capitals 2
  • St. Louis Blues 3
  • New Jersey Devils 4
    • 1991–1995 4.1
    • 1996–1999 4.2
    • 2000–2004 4.3
    • 2012-present 4.4
  • International play 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Personal life 7
  • Career statistics 8
    • Regular season and playoffs 8.1
    • International play 8.2
    • All-Star Games 8.3
  • Awards 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Stevens was born in Kitchener to Larry and Mary Stevens, the middle child of three brothers.[1][2][3] Larry owned a paper products company, and was also a semi-professional Canadian football player.[2] All three Stevens brothers played hockey as children; older brother Geoff would later go on to be a scout for the New Jersey Devils, while Mike, the youngest, enjoyed a brief NHL career with several teams.[3] Growing up near Toronto, he was a fan of the Maple Leafs, and idolized Leafs defenceman Börje Salming.[4][5] Stevens attended Eastwood Collegiate Institute, where he played middle linebacker.[5] One of his teammates was Markus Koch, who would go on to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins.[6] Hockey was Stevens' true passion, however. He and his brothers often played hockey in the house, ruining the furniture repeatedly.[6] He eventually earned a spot on the Kitchener Junior B team, and passed on the opportunity to tour Czechoslovakia with the Kitchener midget team in order to play there.[7] His play impressed scouts, and he was taken ninth overall by his hometown Kitchener Rangers in the 1981 Ontario Hockey League draft.[2]

The 1981–82 Kitchener Rangers were a team that featured several future NHL players. The defensive corps included Dave Shaw and Al MacInnis, Wendell Young was the team's starting goaltender, and the top scoring line on the team was Jeff Larmer, Brian Bellows, and Grant Martin.[8] Stevens and Shaw were an integral part of the Rangers' defence, playing in every game of the season en route to the team's Memorial Cup victory. In addition, both played in the OHL All-Star Game.[9] Rangers coach Joe Crozier commented on him, saying "He's come a long way this year ... He's strong, tough, handles the puck well and has tremendous hockey sense."[9] Stevens led all rookie defencemen in scoring, and he was named the second best defensive defenceman and second best body-checker in a poll of OHL coaches.[2]

Washington Capitals

Stevens was taken fifth overall in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. Due to injuries to other players during training camp, Stevens made the team at 18 years old, and never played a game in the minor leagues.[10] He made an immediate impact, scoring on his first shot in his first NHL game.[2] He scored 25 points in his debut season, and made the All-Rookie Team. In addition, he led all rookie defencemen in penalty minutes. He finished third in the voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the league's Rookie of the Year. He was also named the Capitals' Rookie of the Year.[2] Stevens' debut with the Capitals coincided with the team's first playoff appearance, although they were eliminated in the first round by the New York Islanders.[11][12]

The following year

, he would nearly double his point total from the previous year, finishing with 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points. Only teammate Larry Murphy had more points among defencemen.[13] His 201 penalty minutes would lead the team; he would ultimately lead the Capitals in the category five times during his tenure with the team, and eventually set the team record for most career penalty minutes by a defenceman.[2] However, Stevens' personal success did not translate to the Capitals, who were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Islanders.[13] During this period, Stevens learned from veterans Rod Langway and defensive linemate Brian Engblom on the finer points of playing defence.[14] Head coach Bryan Murray also helped calm the fiery young Stevens, who would learn to fight less and play harder.[14] Stevens spoke fondly of his time with the Capitals years later, saying:[14]

We had a great bunch of guys and we worked hard. We were great defensively. We might have been at times a little challenged scoring and we might have been a bit challenged in the goal at times... But there are no regrets.
— Scott Stevens

The 1984–85 season would be a breakout year for Stevens. He set a team record for defencemen by scoring 16 power play goals,[10] and tied a team record for goals by a defenceman with 21.[2] His performance was good enough to land him a spot in the All-Star Game.[2] Stevens would lead all Capitals defencemen in scoring for the first time, finishing the year with 21 goals and 44 assists,[15] and earned the team's Fan Favorite Award.[2] His offensive abilities and size made Murray consider moving him to winger.[10] The Capitals finished second in the Patrick Division, but were out of the playoffs early again, this time courtesy of the Islanders.[15] Before the next season, the Capitals acquired Dwight Schofield in the waiver draft. Schofield was known for his abilities as an enforcer, and his goal was to keep other teams' hitters away from Stevens and Langway, who were deemed too valuable to lose to penalties.[10] The plan worked, as Stevens finished with 165 penalty minutes, the lowest in his career to that point. He added 15 goals and 38 assists that season as well.[16] The Capitals continued their playoff woes, however; after defeating the Islanders in the first round, they lost to the New York Rangers in the division finals.[17]

The 1986–87 season saw Stevens return to his old ways, as he spent a career-high 283 minutes in the penalty box. The total set a Capitals record (since broken) for penalty minutes in a season.[2] Despite missing three games with a broken right index finger, an injury he suffered against the Islanders, Stevens would finish the year third on the team in scoring with 61 points; his 51 assists were also good enough for second on the Capitals. The Caps were once again eliminated by the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.[18]

During the 1987–88 season, Stevens set Capitals records for most assists and most points by a defenceman in a game, with five assists against the Los Angeles Kings on December 6, 1987.[2] Later that season, he would score at least one assist in eight consecutive games, setting another team record for defencemen.[2] He finished the year second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and 60 assists for 72 points, tops among all Capitals blueliners.[19] He ended up finishing second behind Boston Bruins defenceman Ray Bourque in the voting for the Norris Trophy. In addition, he was named as a NHL First Team All-Star.[2] Stevens would suffer a shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs against the Flyers, a series the Capitals would win.[2] He returned in time for the Capitals' divisional finals against his future team, the New Jersey Devils. Despite tying a team record by posting four assists in Game 6 of the series,[2][20] the Capitals fell four games to three.[19]

The Capitals won the Patrick Division in the 1988–89 season, and Stevens' 68 points (including a team-leading 61 assists) led Caps defencemen. He had 225 penalty minutes; this was the last time Stevens would have over 200 minutes in his career.[21] He was named to his second All-Star game, and added an assist as the Wales Conference lost to the Campbell Conference 9-5.[22] The Caps could not translate their regular season success into the playoffs, however, as they lost in the first round to the Flyers.[21] The 1989–90 season saw mixed success for Stevens. Personally he struggled, as he was beset with injuries, including a broken foot that caused him to miss nearly two months. In addition, he was suspended for three games for gouging Chicago Blackhawks player Dave Manson in the eye during a fight. Stevens said he never hit Manson's eye, but that the eye hit Stevens' helmet during the fight.[2] Missing a third of the season led to Stevens' lowest point total since his rookie year; he finished with just 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points, although it was still second among Capitals defencemen.[16][23] Despite his lowered stats, the Capitals made their furthest inroads in the playoffs ever. After defeating the Devils in the first round and the Rangers in the second round, the Capitals were in the conference finals for the first time in team history. Unfortunately, they were swept by the Bruins.[23]

Over eight seasons with the Capitals, Stevens finished with 98 goals and 429 points in 601 games.[10] He also set team records (all since broken) for penalty minutes (1,630), games played by a defenceman (601), points by a defenceman (429), goals by a defenceman (98), assists by a defenceman (331), playoff games played (67), playoff points (53), playoff assists (44) and playoff goals by a defenceman (9).[2]

St. Louis Blues

After eight seasons in Washington, Stevens felt it was time to move on.[14] The St. Louis Blues courted him and offered a four-year deal worth $5.145 million. Since he was a restricted free agent, Washington had the option to match the offer sheet; they declined, however, and received two first round picks plus $100,000 in cash, turning into five first-round picks if the Capitals did not have a top-7 draft pick in the 1991 or 1992 entry drafts, as compensation (two of these picks would become Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Witt).[2][10]

Stevens' signing had far-reaching ramifications on player contracts in the NHL. At the time, the deal made him the highest-paid defenceman in the league.[14] In addition, the deal included a $1.4 million signing bonus.[2] Several defencemen considered superior players to Stevens, including Ray Bourque and Chris Chelios, were earning less money, and Capitals defenceman Kevin Hatcher held out until he received a contract similar to that of Stevens.[14] General managers worried that these players would begin demanding bigger contracts. The players did end up asking for more money, and this escalation was one of the factors in the 1994–95 NHL lockout several seasons later.[2][10]

After his arrival in St. Louis, Stevens was named captain of the Blues.[10] He scored 5 goals and added 44 assists for 49 points, good enough for fifth on a team led by Brett Hull and Adam Oates.[24] He made the Campbell Conference All-Star Team as well.[25] The Blues were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Minnesota North Stars.[26]

New Jersey Devils

Stevens' time with the Blues would only last one season. In the offseason following the 1990–91 NHL season, the Blues signed Brendan Shanahan from the New Jersey Devils,[14] who, like Stevens the year before, was a restricted free agent, entitling the Devils to compensation. As the Blues still owed first round picks to the Capitals (now five instead of two, as the 1991 pick given up ended up being the 21st pick), other compensation had to be negotiated, and the Blues and Devils could not agree on what the compensation was; the Blues offered goalie Curtis Joseph, forward Rod Brind'Amour, and two draft picks, but the Devils only wanted Stevens.[14] The case went to arbitration, and arbitrator Edward Houston awarded Stevens to the Devils as compensation on September 4, 1991.[2][27]


Initially, Stevens refused to report to the Devils for training camp, and would not report until September 26, 1991, 22 days after the arbitration ruling. The Devils were already worried after captain


Year Location   G A P PIM
1985 Calgary 0 0 0 0
1989 Edmonton 0 1 1 0
1991 Chicago 0 0 0 0
1992 Philadelphia 1 0 1 0
1993 Montreal 0 2 2 0
1994 New York City 1 1 2 0
1996 Boston 0 0 0 0
1997 San Jose 0 2 2 0
1998 Vancouver 0 0 0 0
1999 Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0
2000 Toronto 0 0 0 0
2001 Colorado 0 2 2 0
2003 Florida 0 0 0 0
All-Star totals 2 8 10 0

All-Star Games

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM Team result
1983 Canada World Championship 10 0 2 2 8 Bronze medal
1985 Canada World Championship 8 1 2 3 6 Silver medal
1987 Canada World Championship 2 0 1 1 2 Fourth place
1989 Canada World Championship 7 2 1 3 2 Silver medal
1991 Canada Canada Cup 8 1 0 1 4 Gold medal
1996 Canada World Cup 8 0 2 2 4 Silver medal
1998 Canada Olympic Games 6 0 0 0 2 Fourth place
Totals 49 4 8 12 28

International play

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts +/- PIM GP G A Pts +/- PIM
1980–81 Kitchener Rangers OHL 1 0 0 0 0
1981–82 Kitchener Rangers OHL 68 6 36 42 158 15 1 10 11 21
1982–83 Washington Capitals NHL 77 9 16 25 +14 195 4 1 0 1 0 26
1983–84 Washington Capitals NHL 78 13 32 45 +26 201 8 1 8 9 0 21
1984–85 Washington Capitals NHL 80 21 44 65 +19 221 5 0 1 1 -4 11
1985–86 Washington Capitals NHL 73 15 38 53 0 165 9 3 8 11 0 12
1986–87 Washington Capitals NHL 77 10 51 61 +13 283 7 0 5 5 0 19
1987–88 Washington Capitals NHL 80 12 60 72 +14 184 13 1 11 12 0 46
1988–89 Washington Capitals NHL 80 7 61 68 +1 225 6 1 4 5 -2 11
1989–90 Washington Capitals NHL 56 11 29 40 +1 154 15 2 7 9 -1 25
1990–91 St. Louis Blues NHL 78 5 44 49 +23 150 13 0 3 3 +8 36
1991–92 New Jersey Devils NHL 68 17 42 59 +24 124 7 2 1 3 -5 29
1992–93 New Jersey Devils NHL 81 12 45 57 +14 120 5 2 2 4 -2 10
1993–94 New Jersey Devils NHL 83 18 60 78 +53 112 20 2 9 11 -1 42
1994–95 New Jersey Devils NHL 48 2 20 22 +4 56 20 1 7 8 +10 24
1995–96 New Jersey Devils NHL 82 5 23 28 +7 100
1996–97 New Jersey Devils NHL 79 5 19 24 +26 70 10 0 4 4 -2 2
1997–98 New Jersey Devils NHL 80 4 22 26 +19 80 6 1 0 1 +4 8
1998–99 New Jersey Devils NHL 75 5 22 27 +29 64 7 2 1 3 -2 10
1999–00 New Jersey Devils NHL 78 8 21 29 +30 103 23 3 8 11 +9 6
2000–01 New Jersey Devils NHL 81 9 22 31 +40 71 25 1 7 8 +3 37
2001–02 New Jersey Devils NHL 82 1 16 17 +15 44 6 0 0 0 +5 4
2002–03 New Jersey Devils NHL 81 4 16 20 +18 41 24 3 6 9 +14 14
2003–04 New Jersey Devils NHL 38 3 9 12 +3 22
NHL totals 1635 196 712 908 +393 2785 233 26 92 118 +34 378

Regular season and playoffs

Career statistics

Stevens met his wife Donna while he was playing junior hockey with Kitchener.[3] The couple have three children; Kaitlin, Ryan and Kara.[80] He is a fan of the outdoors, and spent his summers away from hockey at Lake Catchacoma.[3] He also enjoys duck hunting in his spare time, and is a fan of the Three Stooges. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, he started a program called Scott's Kids for the families of the victims.[81] Stevens resides in the town of Far Hills, New Jersey.

Personal life

On the other hand, Kozlov did not blame Stevens for his hit, and said he was a clean player.[6] Despite his penchant for hits, Stevens finished his career with only four elbowing penalties in the regular season.[31] He was often credited with changing the momentum of a game not with a goal, but with a hard check,[76] earning him the nickname "Captain Crunch".[77] He was named the fifth most fearsome player in NHL history by the Sporting News in 2001 and was voted the toughest player in the NHL by the voters.[78] NHL defencemen Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin are often compared to Stevens, and Phaneuf says he has idolized Stevens' style of play.[79]

Some players have accused Stevens of playing cheap. After his check on Willis, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe said Stevens was "trying to kill [Willis] or put him out of the playoffs." Stevens responded:[75]

Stevens was also remembered as a hard hitter, often leveling players who crossed an open part of the ice with their heads down. Among the victims of Stevens' body checks were Slava Kozlov, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya, Shane Willis and Ron Francis, the last of whom was inducted with Stevens into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.[75]

Stevens left a lasting legacy on the NHL. Stevens was the longest reigning captain in Devils history.[73] Later on in his career, he mentored the younger Devils defencemen like Colin White and Brian Rafalski, who was Stevens' defensive linemate.[74] Longtime teammate Scott Niedermayer said Stevens was "not the most vocal guy around", but he would talk to players when it was necessary.[74] Stevens was honored by the Devils by becoming the first player in team history to have his number retired by the team; his #4 was raised to the rafters on February 3, 2006.[72] Additionally, the Kitchener Rangers have retired #3 for Stevens.

A large white banner with the number 4 is suspended in air above an ice hockey rink, as the crowd cheers.
Stevens was the first Devils player to have his number retired; he was honored at a ceremony at Continental Airlines Arena on February 3, 2006.[72]


National Hockey League players were first allowed to participate in the Olympic ice hockey tournament at the 1998 games. Stevens was selected to join Team Canada, but finished without a point for the only time in his international career. Canada would finish fourth after losing their semi-final match-up against the Czech Republic in a shootout.[2][4][69] Stevens would be part of Canada's orientation camp for the 2002 Games,[70] but he would not make the final roster.[71]

In addition to his NHL career, Stevens represented Canada in several international ice hockey competitions. He attended summer camp with Team Canada prior to the 1983 World Junior Championships, but because of his commitment to the Capitals, he was unable to join the team.[2] His first experience with the senior team was at the 1983 World Ice Hockey Championships, where he won a bronze medal.[4] The following year he made the Canadian team for the 1984 Canada Cup, but he did not play.[2] During the 1985 World Ice Hockey Championships, he scored a goal and added two assists as Canada finished with a silver medal.[2][4] He played only two games during the 1987 tournament; Canada finished in fourth place.[2][4] Two years later he scored two goals as Canada once again won the silver medal. During the tournament, he suffered a serious cut when Borje Salming's skate sliced his face; he would receive 88 stitches for the wound.[2][4] He finally won international gold with Canada during the 1991 Canada Cup.[2][4] Five years later, he played in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the successor to the Canada Cup. Finishing with two assists, Stevens won the silver medal; Canada finished in second place after giving up four goals in the final four minutes of the championship game against the American team.[68]

Scott Stevens
Medal record
Competitor for  Canada
Men's ice hockey
World Championships
1983 West Germany Ice hockey
1985 Prague Ice hockey
1989 Sweden Ice hockey
Canada Cup
1991 Canada Cup Ice hockey
World Cup of Hockey
1996 World Cup of Hockey Ice hockey

International play

On July 17, 2012, the Devils announced Stevens would return to the team as an assistant coach.[67] After two seasons of failing to make the playoffs, Stevens stepped down as assistant coach in September 2014. His role as the assistant coach for defenseman was filled by another former Devil, Tommy Albelin. However, only three months later Stevens returned to the Devils along with former assistant coach Adam Oates, relieving Peter DeBoer of his coaching duties. In a unique move, both Stevens and Oates were named as co-head coaches with Stevens focusing on defenseman and Oates on forwards.


The 2003–04 NHL season would be the last for Stevens. Before ending the season, he surpassed former teammate Larry Murphy as the NHL's all-time leader in games played by a defenceman, when he appeared in his 1,616th game in November.[2] He missed several games in January with the flu, and while he was out, he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (which would eventually coerce him into retirement). Despite missing the second half of the season, he was still voted in as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team.[2] Scott Niedermayer filled in as captain in Stevens' absence, but the loss of Stevens, as well as Daneyko, who had retired before the season, was too much of a loss for the Devils' defence, and they fell to the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.[65] In the offseason, Stevens recovered and continued to work out, and expected to return to the Devils for the 2004–05 NHL season.[66] However, the lockout canceled the entire season, and Stevens retired on September 6, 2005, after 1635 NHL games, fourth at the time (and now seventh) all-time in games played, the leader in games played by a defenceman (since passed by Chris Chelios), and 14th all-time in career penalty minutes.[2]

Stevens and the Devils once again had success in 2002–03, finishing first in the division.[60] In addition, he was named as captain of the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the first time,[61] and finished the season with the fewest penalty minutes over a full season in his career.[58] The Devils played well in the playoffs, knocking off Boston, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa to face the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the Finals.[60] Stevens and the Devils had a minor scare in Game 3 of the semifinals against Tampa Bay when a slapshot from Pavel Kubina hit the side of his head and forced him to leave the game. Although there was uncertainty whether he would return for Game 4, Stevens in fact returned, and did not miss a game throughout the remainder of the playoffs.[40] In Game 2 of the Finals, he set the record for most playoff games by a defenceman, breaking the record by his former coach, Larry Robinson.[62] Stevens added to his list of playoff hits when he knocked down Ducks forward Paul Kariya in Game Six. However, Kariya came back shortly thereafter and led the Ducks to a victory, forcing a seventh game.[60] The Devils kept the Ducks scoreless in Game Seven, 3-0, to win their third Stanley Cup in nine years. Stevens' appearance in Game Seven tied Patrick Roy's record for appearances in Game Sevens, with 13.[63] Despite the play of Stevens, Martin Brodeur, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Jeff Friesen, the Conn Smythe Trophy went to Ducks goaltender Jean-Sébastien Giguère. Some speculated that there were too many worthy Devils candidates for the trophy, resulting in a split vote among sportswriters.[64]

The next season, Stevens finished with his lowest scoring total in his career,[58] though he did become the youngest player ever to play in 1,500 games.[2] The Devils, however, fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Hurricanes, who went on to lose to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals.[59]

During the 2000–01 NHL season, led by Patrik Eliáš' franchise-record of 96 points, and Alexander Mogilny's team-leading 43 goals, the team finished first in the conference.[57] After defeating Carolina, Toronto, and Pittsburgh in the playoffs, the Devils once again made the Finals, this time against the Colorado Avalanche. Despite being up three games to two, however, the Devils could not finish off the Avalanche, and lost the series in seven games.[57] Stevens finished third in the voting for the Norris Trophy.[2]

The Devils completed the comeback against the Flyers with a 2–1 victory and faced off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Finals. Stevens and Rafalski were tasked with the responsibility of shutting down Dallas' scoring line of Mike Modano, Brett Hull, and Joe Nieuwendyk.[55] Stevens scored the game-winner in the first game of the series, en route to a Devils 7-3 victory; the goal was his third of the playoffs.[56] The Devils went on to win the Finals in six games, after Game Five went to three overtimes and Game Six was decided in double overtime. Stevens earned an assist on Jason Arnott's Cup-winning goal, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy for his leadership role on the team.[51]

The Devils then met their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the Eastern Conference Finals. After getting behind in the series three games to one, the Devils managed to win games five and six, setting the stage for game seven in Philadelphia.[51] During the first period, Flyers star centre Eric Lindros was skating alone through the neutral zone with his head down. Stevens leveled him with a shoulder that appeared to hit his chin, forcing Lindros out of the game with a concussion.[52] It was only Lindros' second game since returning from a concussion suffered in March against the Boston Bruins. Stevens later admitted that the hit was, in fact, illegal by conventional standards.[53] Stevens had previously taken Flyers centre Daymond Langkow out with a concussion after game 2.[54]

The 1999–2000 Devils focused more on offense, which was reinforced by their 251 goals scored, good enough for second in the league.[49] With four players scoring over 50 points, including rookie Scott Gomez's team leading 51 assists, Stevens' 29 points were only good enough for tenth on the team, and third among defencemen behind Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski.[50] Stevens also set an NHL record, becoming the first player to play in 600 games with two teams.[2] After finishing the season in fourth place in the conference, the Devils swept the Florida Panthers and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games.[51]


The Devils made several changes prior to the 1998–99 season, including the hiring of Robbie Ftorek as coach to replace Jacques Lemaire.[48] The team continued its focus on defence, as the solid corps of Stevens, Daneyko, and Niedermayer finished with plus-minuses of +29, +27, and +26, respectively. Unfortunately, the team was once again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, this time by the Pittsburgh Penguins.[48]

Stevens' leadership continued into the next season. He signed a contract extension with the Devils, stating at the time that he wanted to finish his career with the team.[46] Stevens was especially important to the Devils' defensive corps, as longtime Devil Ken Daneyko was undergoing rehabilitation for alcoholism.[46] However, he suffered a hip pointer injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and missed several games.[2] Stevens once again had a good defensive season, although his lack of scoring kept him out of consideration for the Norris Trophy.[45] The Devils finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but were eliminated in the first round by the Ottawa Senators.[47]

"For the most part, it seems to go with the guy who's got a lot of points... I don't think about it as much as I used to. I've been asked to play a certain role here, which doesn't help in that area. But I feel that gives the team a chance to win every night. That's the satisfaction I get."

—Scott Stevens, on not winning the Norris Trophy[45]

Stevens started the 1996–97 season with a one game suspension due to a high-sticking penalty against Igor Larionov, which drew blood.[2] The team, however, returned to a solid style of play, and finished the season atop the Atlantic Division, though they would be eliminated in the playoffs once again by the Hudson River rival New York Rangers.[43] Stevens finished second on the team among defencemen in scoring behind Scott Niedermayer.[44]

The Devils expected to defend their Stanley Cup title the following season. However, they became the first team in 26 years to miss the playoffs following a championship.[41] Stevens voiced the team's disappointment, saying "After winning the Cup, you expect to definitely be in the playoffs the next year ... Maybe it was just a wakeup call to get back on track."[42]


After the 1995 season was delayed due to an owners' lockout, the Devils were off to a slow start, winning only 9 of their first 24 games.[35] Despite the reduced schedule, Stevens managed two goals and 20 assists, once again leading defencemen in scoring.[36] The Devils finished fifth in the conference, and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they swept the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings to win the franchise's first championship.[35] Stevens' reputation as a hard hitter was reinforced in Game 2, where he leveled Vyacheslav Kozlov with a body check that temporarily knocked him out of the game.[37][38] It was later determined that Kozlov suffered a concussion.[39] Stevens then turned to Wings forward and former Washington teammate Dino Ciccarelli, who was upset about the check, and said "You're next!"[40]

After the 1993–94 season, Stevens was a potential free agent. Officials from the St. Louis Blues discussed a return to the team with him, and persuaded him to sign an offer sheet worth $17 million over four years on July 4, 1994.[34] Five days later, the Devils matched the offer, and thus Stevens remained in New Jersey. However, the Devils later found out that Stevens had heard from St. Louis management before the free agency period began, which was illegal under NHL policy. After a five-year investigation, the league fined the Blues $1.5 million USD, and awarded the Devils two St. Louis first-round draft picks.[2][34] Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello felt the punishment was not enough; he wanted five first-round draft picks plus damages. Despite the investigation, there was no evidence that Stevens was aware of any wrongdoing.[34]

Although he would miss part of the following season with a concussion,[2] his 12 goals and 45 assists still led all Devils defencemen in scoring,[32] The Devils were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs again, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games.[32] Stevens stepped up his offensive game in 1993–94. He posted 18 goals and 60 assists, good enough for the team lead and a career high in points.[16][31] He won the NHL Plus-Minus Award, finishing with a +53; only Vladimir Konstantinov has led the league with a higher plus/minus rating since Stevens' win.[2] The Devils made it all the way to the Conference Finals against the Rangers, where they fell in double overtime of Game 7.[33] Stevens finished as a runner-up to Ray Bourque for the Norris Trophy; the four-vote difference was the closest in Norris Trophy voting history.[2]

Stevens finished his first season in New Jersey fifth on the team in scoring,[30] first among defencemen and good enough for a spot on the Second All-Star Team.[4] He earned a spot on the All-Star roster for the second consecutive season, and would miss only one All-Star game for the remainder of his career as a Devil.[25] The Devils would be taken out of the playoffs by their rival, the Rangers, in seven games.[30] In the offseason, Stevens replaced Bruce Driver as team captain, a title he held until his retirement.[31]

[29] He would eventually report to the Devils three weeks later.[28] to trade Stevens.Lou Lamoriello, wanted more money, while other players wanted general manager Ken Daneyko Several Devils players were upset over the feeling that Stevens was being forced upon the team; some players, including [27]

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