Scott Stevens in Historical Context

I Am Not FrenchContributor IMay 15, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 3:  Scott Stevens #4 hugs former teammate Viktor Kozlov #22 of the New Jersey Devils during Steven's jersey retirement ceremony before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on February 3, 2006 at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Devils won the game 3-0.  (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

As a New Jersey Devils fan since back in their awesomely hideous Christmas Tree jerseys, I became accustomed to watching greatness every season. When No. 4 was patrolling the blue line and padding Martin Brodeur's career stats my Devils always were a legit threat to make another run for the cup.

The causal hockey fan may have only seen the impressive Sportscenter clips of Stevens obliterating opposing forwards entering the zone and thought of him as a thug, but there was a whole lot more to his game than the highlight reel hits. 

His career started off with a bang, an 18-year-old kid who never played a minute in the minors scored in the first game on his first shot. As a rookie he helped the Caps reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In the '93-'94 campaign he led the team in assists, racking up 60 with a +/- of 53.  But of course, he'll always be know for his huge hits, one of which ruined Eric Lindros's career. Here for your viewing pleasure is a great compilation from youtube.

We all know he is among the best of our era, but where does he fit in the all time pecking order? Paul Coffey was one of the greatest skaters to ever lace them up. The guy had amazing speed for a blue liner, and could handle the puck like nobody's business as well. Paul amassed over 1500 points, three Norris trophies, and four cups. He's gotta be in the discussion for the all time best.

Former Devils coach Larry Robinson is a guy that is somehow overlooked by hockey fans. Robinson was just shy of 1000 career points, but amassed six cups, a Conn Smyth, and three Norris trophies. Also, he was a career +730.  Seriously, +730 is unreal.

Red Kelly is another unsung hero of all time. Gordie Howe got all of the props for the 50's era 'wings, yet they had one of the all time greats patrolling the Blue Line. Kelly put together eight cup championships, the most of anyone to not play for the Canadiens.

Ray Bourque is still fresh in our memories, and it didn't hurt too bad for him to steal the cup away from my Dev's. Nobody ever deserved a cup as much as he did. Nicklas Lidstrom and Stevens' former linemate Scott Neidermayer both should be spoken of in the same breath. 

An amazing offensive D man was Denis Potvin. Bossy grabbed all of the publicity, but Potvin was the heart and soul of the team. He put up 1300+ points, four cups, three Norris and the Calder. A pretty impressive resume.

Doug Harvey was a guy that every scoring D man owes a huge debt of gratitude towards. He was the guy that pioneered blue liners carry the puck.  He was the backbone of the Habs and tallied seven Norris' and six cups.

If you don't pick Bobby Orr as the all time greatest there are three possible reasons why:

a) you are smoking crack 

b) you are the biggest homer fan ever

c) you have no idea of the history of the game

Bobby had a career shortened by serious knee problems. By '78 his knees had been cut open for surgery a dozen times. He was barely able to walk at the time and had to hang them up at age 31, and was immediately enshrined in the the HOF as the youngest player ever to reach the Mecca.

He had six straight seasons of over 100 points, with the defenseman record 139 back in 1970.  Two cups, eight Norris', and three Hart trophies show he's the runaway No. 1 of all time.


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