|6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
215 lb (98 kg)
St. Louis Blues
New Jersey Devils
|Born||April 1, 1964,|
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada (age 48)
|NHL Draft||5th overall, 1982|
|Pro Career||1982 – 2004|
|Hall of Fame, 2007|
Ronald Scott Stevens (born April 1, 1964) is a Canadian former professional 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 defense-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 was an integral part of the Rangers' defense, playing in every game of the season en route to the team's Memorial Cup victory. In addition, Stevens played in the OHL All-Star Game.
Early years in Washington
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. He made an immediate impact, scoring on his first shot in his first NHL game. Due to his commitment to the Capitals, he was unable to join Team Canada for the World Junior Championships, even though he had attended their training camp. Although he only scored 25 points in his debut season, he 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. Stevens' early career was also marked by high penalty minutes. He led 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.
Stevens' debut with the Capitals coincided with the team's first franchise playoff appearance. During his first few seasons, the team emphasized a defense-first mindset for all of its players. No where was this more obvious than the 1983–84 season, when Rod Langway won his second James Norris Memorial Trophy as best defenceman, Al Jensen and Pat Riggin combined to win the William Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed, and Doug Jarvis won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. Bryan Murray won the Jack Adams Award for best coach as well.
Stevens learned from Langway and defensive linemate Brian Engblom on the finer points of playing defense. Murray also helped calm the fiery young Stevens, who would learn to fight less and play harder. Stevens also displayed his offensive abilities with the team. In the 1984–85 season, he set a team record for defencemen by scoring 16 power play goals, and tied a team record for goals by a defenceman with 21. Stevens led all Washington defencemen in scoring three times, and for a brief period Murray actually considered switching him to a winger. During the 1987–88 season, Stevens finished second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and 60 assists for 72 points. He ended up finishing second behind Ray Bourque in the voting for the Norris Trophy. Over eight seasons with the Capitals, Stevens finished with 98 goals and 429 points in 601 games. He also played in two All-Star Games in 1985 and 1989.
Controversy in St. Louis
After eight seasons in Washington, Stevens felt it was time to move on. The St. Louis Blues courted him and offered a four-year deal worth $5.145 million. Since Stevens was a restricted free agent, Washington had the option to match the offer sheet; they declined, however, and received five first-round picks as compensation.
Stevens' signing had far-reaching ramifications on player contracts in the NHL. At the time, the deal made Stevens the highest-paid defenceman in the league. In addition, the deal included a $1.4 million signing bonus. 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. 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.
After his arrival in St. Louis, Stevens was named captain of the Blues. 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. Stevens made the Campbell Conference All-Star Team as well. The Blues were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Minnesota North Stars. Stevens would not have the opportunity to continue his success in St. Louis. In the offseason following the 1990–91 NHL season, the Blues signed Brendan Shanahan from the New Jersey Devils. Like Stevens the year before, Shanahan was a restricted free agent, and thus the Devils were entitled to compensation. The teams 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 wanted Stevens. The case went to arbitration, and a judge ruled that Stevens was to be awarded to the Devils in September 1991. Stevens ended the year winning the Canada Cup with Team Canada.
Initially, Stevens refused to report to the Devils for training camp. The Devils were already worried after captain Kirk Muller walked out of camp. Stevens and his wife had made plans to settle in St. Louis, and he wanted to end his career with the Blues. In addition, he was concerned about the apparent lack of unity in the organization, citing Muller's walkout as proof. Several Devils players were upset over the feeling that Stevens was being forced upon the team; some players, including Ken Daneyko, wanted more money, while other players wanted general manager Lou Lamoriello to trade Stevens. He would eventually report to the Devils three weeks later. Stevens finished his first season in New Jersey fifth on the team in scoring, and earned a spot on the Second All-Star Team. He earned a spot on the All-Star roster for the second consecutive season, and would go on to miss only one All-Star game for the remainder of his career as a Devil. In the offseason, Stevens replaced Bruce Driver as team captain, a title he would hold until his retirement (though Scott Niedermayer served as captain for the later half of the 2003–04 season while Stevens was injured). After another season leading all Devils defencemen in scoring, 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. However, they managed to finish fifth in the conference to capture a playoff spot. After playoff victories over the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, and shocked the hockey world by sweeping them for the franchise's first hockey championship. Stevens' reputation as a hard hitter was reinforced in Game 2, when he leveled Vyacheslav Kozlov with a body check that temporarily knocked him out of the game. It was later determined that Kozlov suffered a concussion. Stevens then turned to Wings forward Dino Ciccarelli, who was upset about the check, and said "You're next!"
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.
Stevens started the 1996–97 season with a one game suspension due to a high-sticking penalty against Igor Larionov, which drew blood. 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 crosstown rival New York Rangers. Stevens finished second on the team among defencemen in scoring behind Scott Niedermayer.
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. Stevens was especially important to the Devils' defensive corps, as longtime Devil Ken Daneyko was undergoing rehabilitation for alcoholism. However, he suffered a hip pointer injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and missed several games. Stevens once again had a good defensive season, although his lack of scoring kept him out of consideration for the Norris Trophy. The Devils finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but were eliminated in the first round by the Ottawa Senators. The Devils made several changes prior to the 1998–99 season, including the hiring of Robbie Ftorek as coach to replace Jacques Lemaire. 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.
The 1999–2000 Devils focused more on offense, which was reinforced by their 251 goals scored, good enough for second in the league. 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.
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. During the first period, Flyers star center Eric Lindros was skating through the neutral zone with his head down. Stevens leveled him with a hard body check, forcing Lindros out of the game with a concussion. It was only Lindros' second game since returning from a concussion suffered in March against the Boston Bruins. Stevens was upset by the play, and had to be consoled by coach Larry Robinson during the intermission. However, Flyers defenceman Dan McGillis admitted the hit was clean. Stevens had previously taken Flyers center Daymond Langkow out with a concussion after game 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. 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. The Devils went on to win the Finals in six games, after Game Five went to three overtime periods 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. The Devils were keen to repeat as Stanley Cup champions at the start of 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. 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. Stevens finished third in the voting for the Norris Trophy.
The next season, Stevens finished with his lowest scoring total in his career, though he did become the youngest player ever to play in 1,500 games. 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. Stevens and the Devils once again had success in 2002-03, finishing first in the division. In addition, he was named as captain of the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the first time,and finished the season with the fewest penalty minutes over a full season in his career. The Devils played well in the playoffs, knocking off Boston, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa to face the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the Finals. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Unfortunately, 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. 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' defense, and they fell to the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs.
In the offseason, Stevens recovered and continued to work out, and expected to return to the Devils for the 2004–05 NHL season. However, the owners' lockout canceled the entire season, and Stevens retired on September 6, 2005.
In addition to his NHL career, Stevens represented Canada in several international ice hockey competitions. As part of Team Canada, he won silver medals at the 1985 and 1989 Ice Hockey World Championships, as well as a bronze medal at the 1983 championship. He was on the roster for two Canada Cups; he did not play in 1984, but he won the gold medal in 1991. In addition, he played in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, although Canada failed to medal,
Overall, Stevens has played for Canada in:
- 1983 World Ice Hockey Championships (Bronze)
- 1984 Canada Cup (Reserve, did not play)
- 1985 World Ice Hockey Championships (Silver)
- 1987 World Ice Hockey Championships (fourth place)
- 1989 World Ice Hockey Championships (Silver)
- 1991 Canada Cup (Gold)
- 1996 World Cup of Hockey (Silver)
- 1998 Winter Olympics (fourth place)
Awards and achievements
- 1983- NHL All-Rookie Team
- 1988- NHL First All-Star Team
- 1992- NHL Second All-Star Team
- 1994- NHL First All-Star Team
- 1994- Alka-Seltzer Plus/Minus Award
- 1995- Stanley Cup Champions (New Jersey)
- 1997- NHL Second All-Star Team
- 2000- Stanley Cup Champions (New Jersey)
- 2000- Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP)
- 2001- NHL Second All-Star Team
- 2003- Stanley Cup Champions (New Jersey)
- Played in thirteen NHL All-Star Games in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003
|1990–91||St. Louis Blues||NHL||78||5||44||49||+23||150||13||0||0||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||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|St. Louis Blues captains
|New Jersey Devils captains
Scott Niedermayer 2004
|Conn Smythe Trophy Winner
|Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
|Washington Capitals First Round Draft Picks|
|Joly • Forsyth • R. Green • Carroll • Picard • Walter • Coulis • Gartner • Veitch • Carpenter • Stevens • Hatcher • Corriveau • Greenlaw • Savage • Kolzig • Slaney • Peake • Halverson • Gonchar • Witt • Allison • Baumgartner • Kharlamov • Church • Elomo • Volchkov • Svejkovsky • Boynton • Beech • Sutherby • Eminger • Semin • Gordon • Fehr • Ovechkin • Schultz • M. Green • Pokulok • Finley • Backstrom • Varlamov • Alzner • Gustafsson • Carlson • Johansson • Kuznetsov • Forsberg • Wilson • Burakowsky • Vrana • Samsonov|
|New Jersey Devils Captains|
|Lever | Bridgman | Muller | Driver | Stevens | Niedermayer | Eliáš | Langenbrunner | Parise | Salvador | Greene | Hischier|
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Scott Stevens. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).|