November 08, 2007

Scott Stevens: Hockey's Ultimate Warrior

Like almost everyone, when I think of Scott Stevens, I will think of the hit he laid on Eric Lindros.

Lindros was not Steven's only highlight reel victim - Paul Kariya, Viacheslav Kozlov, Kris King, Shane Willis, Daymond Langkow, Ron Francis and so many more.

I can not think of a defenseman that I've seen personally who had the same on ice presence as Stevens. You might have to go back to the days of Tim Horton or at least an angry Larry Robinson to find a defenseman so strong, so physical, so unforgiving and so feared for his body checks. No, Bryan Marchment doesn't rank in the same category.

I would imagine he was in the heads of every opponent before the game even started. Players must have tried their best to keep the puck on the other side of the ice, and shoot the puck into the other defenseman's corner. And as soon as we get the puck, locate where Stevens is before all else. If you don't have your head up, or if you hang on to the puck too long with Stevens around, you may end up staring at the ceiling, or worse.

That being said, it is with no doubt that Scott Stevens ranks as one of the greatest defensemen of all time. I just thank my lucky stars that I was able to witness his greatness.

Yet somehow Scott Stevens never won a Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. It seems almost criminal in hindsight.

Back in the summer time I profiled Scott Stevens, listing him as a legend of both the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils. You can read his career profile here.

This week Scott Stevens chatted with members of the media via teleconference. Here's some highlights:

On the best Swedish player he's ever played with: "The best Swedish player I've played with, geez, there's so many good ones -- Bengt Gustafsson was a great one.

On playing against against Mark Messier: "I had to try to keep him off the scoring board many nights when he was with the Rangers, and that was my job and it was a tough task. He's one heck of a hockey player, all-around hockey player, could pretty much do anything, play any situation."

On his career transgression from offensive catalyst to shutdown defender: "Well, I guess when I broke in in '82, I wanted to play really well defensively with the Washington Capitals. And that was my main goal and from there I wanted to develop into an all-around defenseman and be able to play at both ends and tried to establish myself in that way.

"I guess I had some big offensive years, you know, in New Jersey, and I mean, Jacques (Lemaire)came in and I think when he came in, I probably had my best year there but I think Jacques started putting people in different roles from what we might have had in previous years. He wanted me to be a shut down defenseman."

On his favorite hit he threw: "Oh, gosh, you know, most people remember the earlier ones that I think -- I mean, the later ones. Earlier in my career, I had some great hits, in the playoffs I hit Pat Flatley with the Islanders, I hit him really well and he came back to score a goal and I gave him credit. I guess Kozlov with Detroit." See the YouTube footage below!

And Here's a look at Stevens Top Ten hits, as ranked by TSN

1 comment:

Eighty-Two said...

My earliest memory of Scott Stevens was from when he was captain of the Blues in a fight-filled game against the Hawks at Chicago Stadium in 1991. Sportschannel America had the Blackhawks announcers (Dale Tallon and Pat Foley) doing the game and they were complaining the whole time about Stevens taking "runs" at Roenick and Chelios, etc.

Finally, he got into a "skate to centre-ice" fight with Dave Manson, where Manson proceded to cut him above the eye.