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Stevens savors the experience

Monday, 11.12.2007 / 2:53 PM / Hall of Fame

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Scott Stevens is enjoying this kind of frenzy because he knows the prize at the end is one he’ll cherish forever, and one his family will cherish for generations to come.
TORONTO -- Scott Stevens has been in town for three days now, but the last 72 hours have been such a whirlwind that he said it feels like it’s been a week.

Not that he’s complaining, mind you. Not in the least, in fact.

Stevens is enjoying this kind of frenzy because he knows the prize at the end is one he’ll cherish forever, and one his family will cherish for generations to come.

“I’m sure (tomorrow) will be a bit of a letdown,” Stevens said Monday morning, mere hours away from his official induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and minutes after sliding his Hall of Fame ring onto his right ring finger. “This is a once in a lifetime.”

Taking it all in and enjoying being in the moment has been the most difficult thing for all the inductees, who have been under strict schedules all weekend long.

They’ve been shuttled from the Hockey Hall of Fame Game Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre to the Q & A session at the Hall Sunday afternoon to the Legends Game back at the ACC later in the afternoon to Monday morning’s press conference in the Great Hall.

Stevens, though, said he’s been surprised how well he’s been able to soak in every moment even through all the runaround.

“I think I have more than I thought I would,” he said. “Just being around the guys and talking has been fun, and to see the Hall, I think it’s been great for the family. They have more time to enjoy it, but like I said, it’s been fun just being around these guys and talking and reminiscing. That’s one thing we’ll have forever. We’re not playing anymore, but we have some fond memories, the whole group of us, and that we’ll take forever.”

Today has been a day Stevens and the rest of his fellow inductees have been waiting for since getting the call from Hall of Fame Chairman Bill Hay in June telling them they had been selected for induction.

Stevens was at home in New Jersey, all by himself, when Hay called that afternoon.

“It just took a while to sink in,” he said. “I was there by myself, so I just sat back and enjoyed the moment.”

“I was kind of surprised with the whole thing. I was kind of caught off guard,” he later added. “I was actually getting ready to mop the kitchen floor. It was my job to do it that week, but I never got it done. I just sat down and enjoyed the moment.”

The moment comes tonight, and it’s another first for Stevens, who also was the first member of the Devils to hoist the Stanley Cup over his head, and the first Devil to have his jersey number retired, which happened in a ceremony on Feb. 3, 2006.

“Absolutely it’s an honor and very special, and I know I’ll be followed by a few more Devils. Marty Brodeur and Scott Niedermayer will definitely be here,” said Stevens, who was wearing his championship ring from 2003 on his left hand Monday morning. “It’s great for the Devils and the fans of New Jersey to be able to be a part of the number retirement and also the Hall of Fame induction.”

With the induction, though, comes the big speech. Stevens said he wrote about half of it and his wife, Donna, helped him with the other half. He was hoping his experience speaking at his jersey retirement ceremony will help him Monday night.

“I’ve just been practicing and my daughter is telling me how I’m supposed to speak,” Stevens said. “It’s much easier getting questions from you guys (the media) and answering them. It’s a lot easier way to go about things, but I have had some experience with my sweater retirement so hopefully that helps and I’ll get through it.”

By the time the morning press conference was over, Stevens’ plaque already was on display in the Great Hall along with those of Ron Francis, Jim Gregory, Al MacInnis and Mark Messier.

It begins with: “One of the game’s most feared open-ice hitters,” which may be an understatement because Stevens, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, was more than just a ferocious on-ice specimen. He was a prototypical two-way defenseman for most of his career, finishing with 196 goals and 712 assists for 908 points in 1,635 games, still the most ever played by a defenseman and fourth-most all-time. He also had 118 points in 233 playoff games.

Stevens, though, can’t escape what he’s most remembered for, and he’s not running away from it either.

“It’s nice to be recognized for doing something very well, and that’s one reason why we’re here is because we did one thing or a combination of things very well,” said Stevens, who was a former middle linebacker at Eastwood Collegiate High School in Kitchener, Ont.

“I tried to be a good all-around defenseman, but there is no question I’ll be remembered more for my physical play, which is fine. I loved that physical play.”

The selection committee did, too.


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