Not all leaders are vocal. Some are the silent type that lead by example. That defines Scott Stevens. He simply led the charge for the Devils and showed them the way.
His arrival to the franchise helped mold the team into winners. It would be a legitimate question to wonder if the team would have won the Stanley Cup had it not been for his arrival.
Stevens arrived in New Jersey as a result of some awkward circumstances. When the Devils lost Brendan Shanahan to free agency back in 1991 to the St. Louis Blues, GM Lou Lamoriello was able to go to arbitration (those were the rules back then) to determine the appropriate compensation.
While the Blues offered Curtis Joseph and Rod Brind a'mour, Lamoriello argued that Stevens was the fair compensation and won his argument in the eyes of the arbitrator.
At first, Stevens was displeased to be given away to New Jersey. He was just coming off his first season with the Blues after signing a free agent deal of his own. In time, Stevens not only enjoyed the rest of his playing career in New Jersey, but has now made his full-time home here.
Stevens' career as a Devil went through a couple of changes. When he first arrived, Stevens played a very balanced game, contributing greatly on both sides of the ice.
Eventually, Stevens, at the request of Head Coach Jacques Lemaire, took on a more defensive role, becoming the best defenseman in the league. He was absolutely robbed of the Norris Trophy award in the 1993-94 season, when he lost by one vote to Ray Bourque.
That season, Stevens posted 18 goals, 60 assists and an amazing plus 53 plus/minus rating. It seemed anything the Devils wanted or needed him to do that season, he was able to do, even playing up front on the power play at times.
Stevens was a warrior throughout his career. He was known for his crunching bodychecks, especially in the playoffs, when they could change the momentum of an entire playoff series.
Some of his biggest hits include Vychaeslav Kozlov (1995 Stanley Cup Finals), Eric Lindros (2000 Eastern Conference Finals), Shane Willis and Ron Francis (2001 Eastern Conference Quaterfinals) and Paul Kariya (2003 Stanley Cup Finals).
Stevens often showed his toughness, but nothing may be more of an example of this then when he basically seemed to play the 2003 playoffs while suffering the symptoms of a concussion.
Stevens had been hit in the ear with a shot from close range off the stick of Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and there was doubt about his availability for the remainder of the playoffs.
Not in Scott's mind, as he didn't miss a game, and in fact scored a goal during Game Four of that series.
Unfortunately, in what may have been a result of his concussion from the Kubina shot, Stevens suffered from post-concussion syndrome the following season, and was limited to 38 games in his final season.
Between the head injuries and the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season, Stevens retired from his playing career.
Stevens was the first person to have his number retired, when the Devils raised No. 4 to the rafters on Feb. 3, 2006. He currently is a special assignment coach for the Devils and specialized in working with the defensemen in Lowell, Trenton and New Jersey.
There are rumors that he is being groomed to eventually become head coach.
Scott Stevens was a special player who truly was one of a kind. He played the game the way you would want to teach your son. This quote sums it all up for me:
"What kind of respect do I get? Just because I'm a physical player, it's O.K. to come at me and do what you want? Hey, it's a hockey game. It's not figure skating. You know what? I can take a hit and I can give a hit. I don't care who it is.
No one gets a free ride out there. I don't get a free ride, and no one gets a free ride from me." Stevens played the game hard, but did it fairly, he was rarely penalized for dirty plays in his career, only having four elbowing penalties in his entire 22-year career.
It's hard to have Stevens at No. 3, as I'm sure there are many people who would argue he should be higher. I think the No. 3 spot is the right place for him to be.