Work in Sports
Stevens named Stanley Cup MVP
Posted: Sunday June 11, 2000 03:56 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Scott Stevens doesn't have to live in the shadow of the NHL's more celebrated defensemen any more.
Not with a Stanley Cup -- and a Conn Smythe Trophy.
Stevens, whose stubborn defense and brutal bodychecks helped bring the Stanley Cup back to New Jersey, was voted the MVP of the playoffs as New Jersey defeated the defending champion Dallas Stars 2-1 in the second overtime Saturday night to win the best-of-seven series 4-2.
"Scottie's been a tower of strength," coach Larry Robinson said. "He's got that 'C' for a reason."
While Stevens contributed his fair share of points in the Devils' unexpected run to their second Cup in five years -- including an assist on the game-winning goal by Jason Arnott -- it was the 36-year-old's play in his own end that was difference in the playoffs.
"You don't get too many chances," Stevens said. "This is sweet. I'm going to enjoy it."
It also makes up for the Devils' failures in the playoffs the past three years. New Jersey was eliminated in the first round the last two and in the second the year before that, and Stevens shouldered much of the blame for the team's poor performance.
"This feels unbelievable," Stevens said. "It's been a long hard road. We stuck together. Everybody believed in each other and we are finally back. Winning the Stanley Cup is unbelievable."
Whomever the Devils faced, Stevens was paired against the opposition's top line. Not only did the opposition get shut down, but 11-time All Star made opponents pay the price of entering the Devils' zone with some brutal open-ice hits.
"You have to do your homework," Stevens said after being presented with both the Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy. "I've done it."
Pavel Bure, a league-leading 58-goal scorer in the regular season, got just one meaningless power-play goal in New Jersey's opening-round sweep of Florida.
Toronto's Mats Sundin got shut out in the second round and John LeClair came up empty in the Eastern Conference finals.
Stevens wasn't as dominating in the finals going against Mike Modano and Brett Hull, the two top goal scorers in the postseason. Hull got two goals in the Stars' 2-1 victory in Game 2 and Modano got the game-winner in triple overtime in Game 5.
However, those were the only blemishes in a playoff season that will be remembered for Stevens' big hits.
"Game in, game out, he gives you 100 percent," Devils veteran Randy McKay said. "He led us by example. Whenever we needed a lift, he came up with a big hit. He was phenomenal."
Bure got his share in the first round, and then Stevens started crunching people in the second round, knocking down Tie Domi, Tomas Kaberle, Kevyn Adams and Darcy Tucker of Toronto. And who can forget Eric Lindros being knocked out early in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against Philadelphia, a hit that seemed to take the wind out of the Flyers' fans and put Lindros' career in jeopardy after yet another concussion?
Center Jason Arnott and goalie Martin Brodeur probably were the Devils' top players in the series against Dallas. Arnott had three goals and three assists in the series and Brodeur was spectacular, giving up four goals in the final four games.
Stevens is the first defenseman since the New York Rangers' Brian Leetch in 1994 to win the Conn Smythe.
This Stanley Cup playoffs had been seen as Ray Bourque's chance to finally get his name on the Cup.
It ended up as Stevens' chance to show he deserves to be mentioned with the likes of Bourque, Chris Pronger and Nicklas Lidstrom.