Although he was not one to put up tremendous offensive numbers during his four years with New Jersey, Stevenson consistently was an agitator with his 6-3, 220–pound frame as the Devils and Flyers battled for Atlantic Division supremacy during the regular season and then met twice in the playoffs.
He signed with the Flyers in July of 2004, so his debut with his former rivals has been a little bit delayed, although that has not diminished his excitement.
It's never easy coming to a new team, especially from a team that is one of your main rivals, said Stevenson. It will be interesting, but I'm excited about the change. When I was a free agent this would have been one of my top picks anyway to try to play for, and they were interested in me so it worked out really well.
Stevenson is likely to play the same role in Philadelphia he played so well in New Jersey, as a third or fourth line winger who is relied upon to police the ice, deliver the big hit, pester the opposition, kill penalties and occasionally drop the gloves. He can, however, also contribute offensively and matched his best year when he registered 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 61 games in 2003-04.
Flyers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock also has an idea as to what Stevenson will bring to the table, having seen him for the past couple of years in the red and black.
I've known Turner for a very long time. He's a very dependable, team-oriented player, said Hitchcock. He's a player that has played on championship teams, he knows his role, he's very good at it and he's excellent at killing penalties. He contributes to the team in every area. He's an honest and hard-working player.
Stevenson is among a group of veterans that have already arrived at the Flyers' training facility more than two weeks before the beginning of training camp. With the year off, and with all of the new faces, the players recognize that coming together quickly as a team will be of utmost importance for the beginning of the regular season on October 5.
As a member of the Devils' Stanley Cup teams in 2000 and 2003, Stevenson knows what it takes for a roster of 22 players to come together and become a championship-caliber group.
It's great to say we have a great team on paper, he said. We have great players on paper, but if you don't mix in together and become one unit, that is the biggest part about winning and being on a winning team that I have been on. It's all about the guys coming together and being a close knit group, not just individual talent.
We've got a good team here. They made some great moves and we have to come together as a team and get it done on the ice.
FLYERS NOTES The only regulars who are not at the Flyers' training facility as of Wednesday morning include Kim Johnsson, Michal Handzus, Branko Radivojevic, Mike Knuble and Peter Forsberg. Everyone else is either skating or working out. … While the players are preparing for camp, Ken Hitchcock and his coaching staff of Wayne Fleming and Terry Murray have been meeting as well. The Phantoms coaching staff of John Stevens, Kjell Samuelsson and Craig Berube is also in on the meetings. Coaches are not allowed on the ice with the players until the beginning of training camp.