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Five Questions: Stevens on TV gig, Brodeur and more

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Scott Stevens isn't sure if he's starting down a new career path or biding time before his next opportunity with a team, but the Hall of Fame defenseman is looking forward to finding out how it works on the other side of the hockey business.

Stevens, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils following 22 seasons as a player, is getting his first taste of being a television analyst with NHL Network this week.

He appeared on NHL Live on Monday and will be back Tuesday. He will rejoin NHL Network to be part of its coverage of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals at Nationals Park on New Year's Day.

"I love hockey and I watch hockey," Stevens said. "It's fun to talk about hockey. That's what I've been doing my whole life."

Stevens played 1,635 games in his career. He won the Stanley Cup three times with the Devils and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000. He appeared in 13 All-Star Games and is known for his devastating hits and ferocious intensity.

But when Stevens watches games now he does so with a coach's perspective gained over the past two seasons. He said he'll use his coach's eye on camera and see if it can become something he does on a more full-time basis in the future.

"I like to look at the finer points of plays and look at what could have been done, should have been done or how it could have been played," Stevens said. "I like to break the plays down. If this works I think I'd enjoy it. It's fun to be on the other side and talk about hockey. That's what you grow up doing. I can talk about hockey all day."

He had time to talk about hockey with on Monday. Beyond himself and his future, Stevens discussed one prominent former teammate, coaching in the NHL versus playing in the NHL, and more for the following Q&A that features a bonus question and answer at the end.

Here are Five Questions with … Scott Stevens:

A lot of people say that Martin Brodeur should retire, that his legacy is built, he has nothing to prove. As a former player, someone who has walked in Brodeur's shoes, what do you think he is thinking and why does he continue to try to push to play when it's true, his legacy has been made and he doesn't have anything to prove?

"Well, he still feels he can compete and he still loves the game. He's still passionate about the game. And he wants another chance to win. I think the Blues are a good fit. They play much like the Devils used to play. He's going to see the shots so knows where they're coming from ahead of time because of the way they play with [Blues coach Ken Hitchcock]. It's a good fit for him. He can help them and they can help him I believe. Obviously it's weird, but for Marty, in New Jersey it would be hard for him to be in a backup role after what he's done and who he's been. It just wouldn't work. If it was time for Schneider and time for Marty, he needed to go somewhere else to almost get away from what he was and start something new. Maybe it will be exciting for him, a new team, something different at this time in his career. Yes we would have loved to see him retire as a Devil, but I think this stint in St. Louis or wherever he winds up, we're not going to really remember too much of that unless he wins the Stanley Cup and hoists the Conn Smythe. He'll still come back and be a Devil for sure, for life."

There's only a limited time you can play this game at this level, so is that part of it. If someone is willing to give him a chance, why not take it?

"Sure. He's arguably the best goalie of all time. He's the most skilled, most athletic goalie I've ever seen. He's 42, but why not? [Ed] Belfour played until 42. I think I read Hitch said he [can play] 30 games. If Marty works at it and gets some time he can be a factor. He's a great puck-handling goalie. He can help that defense and that team just because of his ability to make that first pass and beat the forecheck. That's something that is going to get in the other team's head and only going to give the Blues confidence and help guys like [Kevin] Shattenkirk, [Alex] Pietrangelo and [Jay] Bouwmeester. That's not gone anywhere. That's good."

You've coached the past couple of seasons and now you've taken a step back from coaching. What were the pros and cons of coaching? What did you like, why did you take a step back?

Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils following 22 seasons as a player, is getting his first taste of being a television analyst with NHL Network this week. (Photo: Getty Images)

"It was fun to be close to the ice and part of the game, but the tough part is the long hours. There's a lot of long hours, a lot of dead time and getting home late. Obviously it's much easier being a player. The players have it good. We had it peachy, let me tell you. And a head coach is a tough job. He's got a lot to deal with, I've learned. It's eye-opening when you're on the other side as an assistant coach and you're seeing what the head coach has to deal with every day. It's a tough job being a head coach.

"Playing the game was easy. As a coach, you just want to go out there and do it yourself. Forget about telling guys how to do it, I'd just like to go out there and do it myself, get it done. Playing the game was easy, that was fun. But coaching is a challenge, but it's fun because I enjoy teaching. I enjoy teaching the young kids to help them be the best they can be. That's fun, no question about it."

Is coaching something you would get back into at some point, or is that phase of your career over?

"No, I'm not closing any doors. I'm enjoying this. I've always thought it would be fun to talk about games, to analyze games. I also think it would be great to be part of building a team in a management role, to put a good team on the ice, put the parts together that make a winning team. I think that would be fun also. I love the game. It's a great game. And this is a good little spot for me now, something to do and I look forward to doing some more of this [television work]."

How would you have had to change your game to play in the NHL today with the crackdowns on hitting, particularly up high, the head area, as a result of improved player safety?

"I'm not sure, but I believe you find a way. Your whole life you find a way to get in the NHL and then they make changes and you adjust. If you're good enough and smart enough I think you can make those adjustments to still be effective and still play in the game. There's no question the game has changed with the hitting part. You don't see it as much. The hits aren't as big and devastating as they were, but I still think it's a great game and I still believe hitting is very important. When it comes playoff time what gets ramped up the most is the hitting part of the game. It's a great game. It's the only game that doesn't have an out of bounds and that's pretty special. I think people love the hitting so we've got to be careful. It's a part of the game that people love and it's a very important part when it comes to the playoffs to wear teams down. The physical part is a big part of winning."

BONUS QUESTION: Have you been watching the Devils closely this season? If so, what do you make of them right now? What are you seeing from your couch?

"Inconsistency from period to period. It's a 60-minute game and if you're a team on the bubble and trying to find yourself you've gotta play 60 minutes. You can't have a period off or a bad period. I think when you're always struggling you go back to your fundamentals and play a strong defensive game to get out of the funk. You have a good goalie, so let's play a real tight defensive game and try to win the low-scoring game. The goals will come later, but let's get some confidence and get back in the game, get a little streak going. But they keep shooting themselves in the foot to a certain extent. They're having trouble holding leads and playing 60 minutes. They need to get to the net more. You watch this game, the highlights, goals are scored in front of the net by the blue paint. Even the best teams are teams that put the puck in the net and have people there. That's how you score goals. You cannot score goals on the perimeter in this league. They definitely should be better and they have to. They've gotta get it going soon here. Time is ticking and this is a crucial time. I'm a Devil by heart so it hurts and you want to see them do well, just like the fans. That's my team. You want to see them get back to where they once were."


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