September 6, 2005


Devils' Stevens retires after 22 years (Associated Press. 9/06/05)

New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens announced his retirement after more than two decades in the NHL on Tuesday, saying a year off showed him that he could live without hockey.

"I think the game is more mental than physical. You have to be in tremendous shape, but you have to want to do it in your head," the 41-year-old player said. "At this point in my career I didn't think I could put the mental parts there every day, and that's a big part of playing this game."

General manager Lou Lamoriello said Stevens, a 13-time All-Star who won three Stanley Cups with the Devils and played more NHL games than any other defenseman during his 22 seasons, has "been an integral part of all the success we've had."

I've been watching hockey for almost 40 years, and he's the fiercest open ice hitter I've ever seen. Ray Borque's hip checks were more stylish, but Stevens' hits were devastating.

He was a "plus" in plus/minus ratings every year of his career. Interestingly, he came to the Devils as compensation when St. Louis signed Brendan Shanahan away from NJ. League rules required the Blues to make a good faith offer of compensation, but they offered some scrubeenie. To make an example of them (remember, the League wanted to discourage teams from signing free agents and driving up salaries), the Commissioner awarded Stevens as compensations. As great as Shanahan was (and still is), it's unlikely that St. Louis would have traded him straight up for Stevens.

Bill James once described Don Mattingly as "100% baseball; 0% bulls[qua]t." Replace "baseball" with "hockey" and that's Stevens.

Posted by Glenn Dryfoos at September 6, 2005 8:32 PM

"Stevens retires" gave me a jolt, but I couldn't quite figure out which side thinks he's the devil.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 6, 2005 9:04 PM

Never a harder (clean) open ice hit than the one he laid on Lindros, who was never the same once he recovered from the concussion. For all the millions the Rangers wasted on washed up "stars", they never had a player like this.

Posted by: Josh Epstein at September 6, 2005 9:42 PM

Josh - I'm a lifelong Ranger fan and always wished we could have players like Stevens, Shanahan, Cam Neely, etc. Instead we got Ken Hodge, Barry Beck, Lindros and Theo Fleury (aka the Little Midget with the Big Drinking Problem).

I'm happy to see some responses to a hockey post. I've told OJ I'll post some NHL news from time-to-time, if there's interest.

Little known fact: Long before OJ was seduced to the Dark Side and became a card-carrying member of the VRWC, he was a die-hard NY Islander fan. I think it was partially because he truly liked players such as Trottier, Bossy and his favorite, Clarke Gilles, and partially to annoy his Ranger-fan friends.

Posted by: Foos at September 6, 2005 10:12 PM

I had assumed OJ was scouting future Islander talent from his seat on the Dartmouth Zamboni (maybe I should be worried that the Rangers signed Dartmouth's Hugh Jessiman ...)

Posted by: Josh Epstein at September 7, 2005 12:02 AM

The salary cap and the spreading around of big name players is going to be good for the NHL.

Can't say that I missed the Canucks last year, however. Sure am enjoying football with the B.C. Lions 9-0 to start the season. I think sports that play one game a week makes more sense from a fan perspective.

There was a time when the Canucks played the Devils every year on Halloween. And I'm still waiting for the Devils to sign that player named Miroslav Satan (is he still with Buffalo?)

Posted by: Randall Voth at September 7, 2005 1:54 AM

Your memory is seriously flawed, Glenn. The Blues had signed Stevens the year before and had lost 4(!) 1st round draft picks as compensation. Their offer of compensation for Shanahan was Curtis Joseph, Rod Brind'amour, & 2 1st rounders. Given that Shanahan was nowhere near as important as Stevens, as you yourself state, this was a more than fair offer. The Devils requested Stevens as the "fair compensation". As Brett Hull observed at the time, "the fix was in". The league was bound & determined to punish the Blues and suppress free agency.

Posted by: b at September 7, 2005 2:15 AM


You won't believe how slow Jessiman is, though he's also huge.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2005 8:13 PM