The New Jersey Devils announced Tuesday that they have named Scott Stevens and Matt Shaw as assistant coaches. They will join assistants Dave Barr and Chris Terreri on head coach Pete DeBoer’s coaching staff.
Stevens played with the Devils for 13 seasons, captaining them to three Stanley Cups. The rugged defenseman won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2007. He played in 1,635 total NHL games and finished his career with a plus-393 plus/minus rating.
Stevens had previously coached with the Devils before, but in more minor roles. For the 2009-2010 season, Stevens was a part-time assistant coach under Jacques Lemaire, but rarely traveled to away games and did not coach from behind the bench. For the last two years, Stevens has been a special assignment coach, working in Albany with the minor-league defensemen, as well as being at all the Devils home games. After working in part-time roles for the last three years, the 48-year-old told reporters in a conference call that he felt it was time to take the next step forward.
“I’ve been away from the game. I’ve kept my foot in the door. I’ve been away a while now,” Stevens said. “With the way things transpired with the coaching staff, there was an opportunity. It just feels right, now. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing, but I feel like I’m ready to jump in full-time. It’s tough when you’re not around fulltime. I think it’s more fun being there on a full-term basis. I’m kind of excited to get behind the bench and be a part of the game and part of the process of helping the defense and working with them.”
Stevens, a guy who played the game with brute force, but could also chip in on the offensive end, already likes what he sees in the Devils’ defense core.
“We have a lot of good young defenseman and a lot of size, which I like. They can pick up a lot of space and make things difficult on the other team’s forwards,” said Stevens. “Just the talent level, I think this is the deepest we’ve been on defense for young, upcoming defensemen in a long time. I don’t think we’ve ever had this type of depth before. It’s very exciting. You can never have enough defenseman. It’s a tough position and a position that takes time to develop. We’re looking to surface some of these guys to the NHL as quickly as possible, when it’s right, to help our team.”
Shaw had been with the San Jose Sharks as an assistant coach for the past three seasons and was mainly in charge of the power play, a role he will keep as he transitions to the New Jersey Devils. This past season, Shaw guided the Sharks power play to a 21.1 percent efficiency rate, second-best in the NHL. They were second in 2010-2011 at 23.5 percent and checked in at fourth in 2009-2010 with a 21 percent mark. Shaw told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday that once he gets to know his guys, the power play will start to take form.
“In regards to the player personnel, I have to have a better understanding of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses,” Shaw said. “The coaching staff will have a better much idea of that than me today. The power plan has got to be tailored to the group and individuals that are going to be part of it. We are going to have a power play plan that we believe in and believe is important in the way a power play should be run. From there will be the learning curve of finding out who best fits where, and who is best in certain areas on the power play to utilize.”
Prior to San Jose, Shaw was with the Minnesota Wild for two years. Like Stevens, Shaw was also an assistant for Lemaire, who was the head man with the Wild for eight years around a pair of stints with New Jersey. Shaw has spent time in the United Hockey League as a head coach and was an assistant in the International Hockey League as well.
Shaw, who will work as an assistant above the ice with the Devils, believes DeBoer sees him as an asset because of his versatility.
“I think he understands my background as far as how I approach coaching. I’ve been on the bench in the NHL and other levels. I’ve been a head coach,” said Shaw. “Video is a great tool of pre-scout and teaching. Having an opportunity to play deep in the playoffs with San Jose on a couple of occasions, I think that body of work has provided Pete with a seeing that I have the necessary tools to help him.”
The Devils hired Stevens and Shaw to replace Larry Robinson, who left to become an associate head coach with the Sharks, and Adam Oates, who departed for the head coaching vacancy of the Washington Capitals.
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