Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Future Hall of Famer Scott Stevens Retires

Today, future Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens announced his retirement. TSN's story is here.

Stevens was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada on April 1st, 1964. He came up through the Kitchener junior hockey system and eventually played for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. He was drafted in the first round, fourth overall by the Washington Capitals in 1982. Stevens immediately made the Capitals as an eighteen year old. He was a tough stay at home defenceman from day one. Stevens made the all rookie team in his first NHL season. In 1985, he played in his first of thirteen all star games. In 1988, he made the NHL first all star team for the first time.

In 1990, he left Washington signing as a free agent with St Louis. As one of the earliest NHL restricted free agents (in the CBA prior to the 1995 lockout), Washington received as compensation 5 first round draft picks. The compensation picks turned out to be Trevor Halverson, Sergei Gonchar, Brendan Witt, Eric Fichaud (this pick was later traded to Toronto) and Miikka Elomo. It is still debated to this day whether or not Washington benefitted from this move, although they clearly lost out in the short term as it took years for these first round picks to make it to their lineup.

Stevens only remained in St Louis for one season until St Louis signed Brendan Shanahan as a free agent. As compensation for the signing, Stevens was sent to New Jersey. It was in New Jersey that Stevens reached his highest success. He made the First All Star team again in 1994, a year when he lead the NHL in +/- rating. He made second all star teams in 1992, 1997 and 2001. In 1995, 2000 and 2003, he captained the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup. In 2000, he won the won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.

Internationally, Stevens represented Canada in four World Championships. He played in the 1991 Canada Cup and was a reserve who did not play in the 1984 Canada Cup. He played for Canada in the 1996 World Cup and the 1998 Olympics.

Stevens is known as one of the hardest open ice hitters in NHL history. His hits have caused several concussions in opposing players. He was a very good defensive player who never had a negative +/- rating any season in his career. He was a good power play point man in the early portion of his career. His career best was 72 points in 1987/88. He has the thirteenth highest career penalty minute total of 2785 PIMs.

Stevens says that a year off of hockey last year helped him realize that he can live without hockey. The mental and physical parts of the game took a real toll in 22 seasons. He will be happy to relax from it for a while before moving on to other challenges.

Stevens was one of the eighteen currently active NHL players I feel belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame regardless of what they do (or do not do) for the rest of their careers. The remaining seventeen players on my list are:

Dave Andreychuk
Ed Belfour
Martin Brodeur
Chris Chelios
Ron Francis
Dominik Hasek
Brett Hull
Jaromir Jagr
Brian Leetch
Mario Lemieux
Nicklas Lidstrom
Al MacInnis
Mark Messier
Luc Robitaille
Joe Sakic
Brendan Shanahan
Steve Yzerman

There may be a few more retirements on this list before the NHL season begins as Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Mark Messier remain unsigned.

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