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Great Scott: Stevens Headed for Hall of Fame

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
A veteran of 22 NHL seasons, Stevens enters the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. – To Devils fans, he will always be The Captain.

To the rest of the hockey world, he will forever be known as a Hall of Famer.

Scott Stevens, three-time Stanley Cup Champion and veteran of 1,635 regular season games in the National Hockey League, was announced today as an inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Ceremonies for this year's class are scheduled for November 12 in Toronto.

Stevens enters hockey's pantheon alongside Mark Messier, Al MacInnis and Ron Francis, rounding out one of the most highly-decorated foursomes the Hall has ever seen.

Together they have 12 Stanley Cup Championship rings (Stevens, 3; Messier, 6; MacInnis, 1; Francis, 2), two Hart Memorial trophies as regular season MVP (Messier: 1990 and 1992), three Conn Smythe trophies for playoff MVP (Messier, 1984; MacInnis, 1989; Stevens, 2000), three Lady Byng Memorial trophies (Francis: 1995, 1998, 2002), a King Clancy Memorial Trophy for humanitarian work (Francis, 1995), a Frank J. Selke Trophy for best defensive forward (Francis, 1995), a James Norris Trophy for best defenseman (MacInnis, 1999), and two Lester B. Pearson Awards as the NHLPA's most outstanding player (Messier: 1990, 1992).

Whether Stevens is best remembered for helping to lead the Devils to their first Stanley Cup in 1995, for his rumbling bodychecks, or for his leadership, New Jersey's no. 4 has left an indelible mark on the Devils franchise and on the National Hockey League.

  • Washington's first choice, and fifth overall selection in the 1982 Entry Draft.
  • Only defenseman ever to lead New Jersey in scoring  (78 pts. in '93-94).
  • Played last game on January 7, 2004 vs. Pittsburgh.
  • Only the seventh defenseman to receive the Conn Smythe Trophy.
  • Sixth individual in Devs' history to be inducted, joining Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson , Peter Stastny, Viacheslav Fetisov, and Herb Brooks.
  • Appeared in 13 mid-season NHL All-Star Games.

Stevens' career spanned 1,868 total NHL games including the playoffs, good for fourth all-time in the NHL's 90-year history.

Among defensemen, however, Stevens' mark for games played reigns supreme, and no player in league history has appeared in more of his team's regular season wins (879).

Drafted by the Capitals in 1982, the native of Kitchener, Ont., spent eight seasons in Washington, where he made a quick impact with both his scoring and his physicality. Stevens' stint with the Caps saw him lead Washington defensemen in scoring three different times ('84-85, '87-88, '88-89), while also pacing the team in penalty minutes in two of those seasons ('84-85, '88-89).

Washington joined the NHL as an expansion franchise in 1974-75, and failed to see postseason play in any of its first eight seasons. Beginning with Stevens' rookie season in 1982-83, however, the team qualified for the playoffs in every one of the next eight campaigns, advancing as far as the Wales Conference final with Stevens on the blueline in 1990.

The 1990 offseason brought a change of scenery for the 26-year-old Stevens, who signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent that July. He finished fifth in scoring on a Blues squad that was led by Brett Hull's 86 goals and Adam Oates 90 assists, but Stevens' stop in the Gateway City would not last beyond that one season.

On September 3, 1991, Stevens was acquired by the Devils as compensation for the Blues' signing of free agent Brendan Shanahan.

Both the Devils and Stevens had arrived on the NHL scene in the same year. The sturdy defenseman had seen playoff action in each of his first nine NHL seasons in the league, while the Devils had missed the playoffs six times over that same stretch.

But by the time 1991-92 had rolled around, Stevens and the Devils were embarking together on a stretch that would see the Devils qualify for the playoffs in 12 of Stevens' 13 seasons with the club.

Stevens soon emerged as one of the top offensive threats on the Devils' D corps. In his second season, Stevens inherited the team's captaincy from veteran Bruce Driver. In his third, he led all Devils in scoring as the team posted a franchise-record 47 wins in the regular season, and came within one goal of an appearance in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

He was the runner-up for the Norris Trophy that same season, as he had been once before with Washington in 1988. Hockey's ultimate prize, however, would soon be his.

In 1995, the Devils toppled the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in a surprising four-game sweep, giving Stevens his first taste of Stanley Cup victory.

Five years later, the Championship returned to East Rutherford, following a six-game victory in the 2000 Final over Dallas. New Jersey had its second Cup in six seasons, and Stevens was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP.

Stevens recorded three goals and eight assists in that 23-game postseason run, but made an even bigger impact with his physical presence.

To get to the Final, the Devils had achieved the improbable by becoming the first team in Conference final history to come back and win the series after falling three games to one. The seventh and deciding game would unfold on the Flyers' home turf, where Stevens would quiet the First Union Center by leveling Eric Lindros with a thundering hit that tacked the exclamation point on to New Jersey's historic rally.

Stevens and the Devils later secured a third Championship in 2003 by erasing Ottawa in a seven-game Eastern Conference final, then going the distance against Anaheim. Once again Stevens made waves with a ferocious hit, this time with an open-ice hit on Mighty Ducks forward Paul Kariya.

Known for his open ice checks, Stevens was known just the same for executing them cleanly, accruing just four elbowing penalties in the regular season over his NHL career.

Stevens announced his decision to retire from the NHL in 2005, closing out 22 magnificent seasons. On Feb. 3, 2006, he received special recognition from the Devils for his singular career, becoming the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Today, he has been upgraded to the ultimate individual honor. And there could be no more fitting tribute for a player of Scott Stevens' caliber than permanent enshrinement in Toronto's hallowed Hall.
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