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Scott Stevens ready for return to New Jersey

Wild assistant, who played 13 seasons with Devils, will coach against former team for first time

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens will enter uncharted territory when he steps behind the bench as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV).

For the first time, Stevens will be coaching against the team with which he spent 13 seasons, the last 12 as captain, and won three Stanley Cup championships (1995, 2000, 2003). The player many consider to be the most physically intimidating of his generation admitted he might feel a bit uncomfortable at the outset.

"There's always that first time going back somewhere in a different role where it will feel a little awkward, but I'm sure I'll get over it quickly once the puck is dropped," Stevens told NHL.com. "To be honest, I haven't had a lot of time to think about the game since I've been so busy."

Stevens said he'll forever cherish his time in New Jersey and, most importantly, being around the fans who cheered for him and the Devils during those years. His No. 4 was retired by the Devils on Feb. 3, 2006.

"I hope I receive a nice ovation; the fans were always great," he said. "They've always been excellent to play for, and I know they appreciated the teams we had and the Cups we won. They're proud of that and, as players, we're very proud also."

Stevens handles the defense and works closely with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.

"Bruce has given me full reign with the defense," Stevens said. "He's an offensive-minded coach, but he also understands the importance of defending and playing well defensively. Defense leads to good offense and to scoring, so that's his philosophy and mindset.

"Our biggest asset in Minnesota is we have people who can move, skate, join plays and get back and make plays using their speed, and speed is important."

It's not the first time Stevens has been behind the bench. He was a co-coach for the Devils along with Adam Oates and Lou Lamoriello after Peter DeBoer was fired on Dec. 27, 2014. He also served two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant under DeBoer.

"People looked at that situation and thought it was odd, but I had a great relationship with Lou and Adam," Stevens said. "[Oates] and me thought the same way; we'd always bring in and want to discuss the same video clips. [Lamoriello] was a coach, general manager and president, so he knows the game. You can never stop learning this game as a player or a coach."

Lamoriello is now general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  

Stevens gained a different perspective of the game when he worked as an NHL Network analyst last season.

"It was almost as though you were coaching or teaching from a chair and being on TV, and I liked to talk hockey," Stevens said. "They liked when we did video and broke plays down. You can see and learn different things from watching different teams. It was also a way to keep my foot in the door to maybe get back into coaching, and that opportunity came along in Minnesota."

Prior to taking the job with the Wild on June 7, Stevens was holding out hope a coaching position would work out with the Devils.

"It just didn't [happen]," he said. "I understand changes are made and you move on, and I'm very happy in Minnesota."

Stevens, 52, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility. Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 1982 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals, Stevens played 22 seasons for the Capitals, St. Louis Blues and Devils. He was a Norris Trophy finalist multiple times, won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000 and played in 13 NHL All-Star Games.

His 1,635 games played are second all-time among defensemen, 16 behind Hall of Famer Chris Chelios. He finished with 196 goals, 908 points, 2,785 penalty minutes and a plus-393 rating before announcing his retirement Sept. 6, 2005.

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