Many critics of the NHL Department of Player Safety’s decision to hire Chris Pronger threw out the blurb, “Who’s next, Scott Stevens?” Well, maybe so.
Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika reports that the league interviewed him while Bob McKenzie added that it’s by no means a “done deal” during Thursday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading. The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti notes that Owen Nolan and George Parros were also among the interviewees.
Much like Pronger, Stevens was one of the best – and easily among the most intimidating – defensemen of his generation. It’s an understatement to regard both blueliners as two of the most polarizing players of their era, too.
One popular refrain regarding the changing standards for dirty hits is that Steven’s highest profile hits (career-threatening, bone-crushing stuff on Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros) would likely be illegal by today’s standards. It’s not all that shocking to see that a potential Stevens hire drawing some debate out from media members, too:
Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski brings up a salient point beyond all that bluster, though: would a Stevens hire be a bit redundant?
One of the great things about the NHL’s competition committee, by comparison, is that it’s a cross-section of players. Seriously, look at this group. Scorers, defensemen. Guys who hit, guys who get hit. A goalie!
In many ways, one of the guys Stevens basically ended, Paul Kariya, would be a better voice in the player safety room. We have hitters represented; what about the hittees?
It’s an interesting proposition to consider. After all, wouldn’t a “finesse” player provide some added perspective regarding when a guy might put himself in a “vulnerable position” and when it might be a flimsy argument? (One example: Jonathan Toews provided some interesting prospective on a big Willie Mitchell hit back in 2010.)
Either way, it’s clear that Stevens draws respect for his “hockey IQ.” He’s already off to a fairly productive career in coaching* and, polarizing or not, he was rarely suspended despite his physical style.
We’ll eventually find out if the league will make another controversial hire in an area that might just promote the most controversy among hockey fans.
(Aside from goalie interference penalties, maybe.)
* – Although it was put on hold.