Scott Stevens

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Devils legends Stevens and Daneyko together on TV

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — The familiar red-and-black uniforms are gone, replaced by suits and ties, and lapel microphones and pens are in place instead of skates and sticks. On a nearby wall is a reminder of their successes over the years – their names, inscribed with others who have won the Stanley Cup.

Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko sit beside each other on set at the NHL Network and it feels like the good old days when they played for the New Jersey Devils and won the Cup three times. After 12 years of playing together and developing on-ice chemistry at hockey’s highest level, the two retired defensemen are reprising their relationship as television analysts.

”On the ice, we could beat people up a bit, and that was a lot of fun,” Stevens said as Daneyko sat a few feet away and laughed along. ”It’s different. Now we’re doing a different thing. We played hard together and we had a lot of good years together killing penalties and were fortunate to win Stanley Cups, but it’s fun to work on TV. I think we both love the game, we love to talk about the game and watch hockey.”

They are both 55 now and long enough removed from the game to appreciate how much it has changed since their halcyon days of delivering bone-crushing hits, some of which would be suspension-worthy today. Their chatter on the air is cleaner now – maybe not so much during pre-show meetings – but the dialogue is much the same as when Stevens and Daneyko manned the blue line and killed penalties together for the Devils dynasty.

”We talk more like analysts when we’re looking at a play, but we did that in the (locker) room,” Daneyko said. ”That’s why our team had some success: We had great leadership, we had guys that understood the game.”

More than anything else, Stevens and Daneyko understand each other as they finish their second season together at the network. Daneyko calls Stevens a ”coach at heart” – evidenced by his stints as an NHL assistant – but thinks he’s probably too intense to be a coach. Stevens lauds Daneyko’s broadcasting skills from years of experience as the Devils’ color analyst.

”I paid him to say that,” Daneyko chirps.

NHL Network senior coordinating producer Josh Bernstein said his two former players have ”almost a ‘finishing each other’s sentences’ kind of chemistry,” though the network likes to mix up the pairings, so it is not always Stevens-Daneyko.

”But when we do and it’s the two of them, it’s certainly special just because of their great history together,” Bernstein said. ”They’re a great team.”

It’s 90 minutes before air time and the team heads upstairs to look at video of plays that will be broken down on the show. This particular night, it’s Matt Duchene‘s Game 2 overtime winner for Columbus against Boston and a handful of goals from the Colorado-San Jose series.

Stevens points to the screen and motions like he’s drawing on the screen, showing where Boston’s Sean Kuraly should have been and what Zdeno Chara was trying to do. The two go back and forth.

”I just think the one guy’s got to be a little lower, Scotty,” he said. ”Maybe I’m nitpicking. That’s probably good execution.”

The former teammates look as comfortable on set next to host Scott Braun as they did in front of Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur. Braun opens the show and declares, ”The champs are here!” before Stevens and Daneyko debate everything from the likelihood of a team winning a series when up 2-1 to whether an MVP has to come from a playoff team.

Equipment repairs are necessary here, too. Instead of a dull skate or a broken stick, Stevens’ earpiece has echoing audio problems and Daneyko jokes during a commercial break that his pops out of his ear when he gets animated.

They get plenty animated, too, especially at playoff time.

”Sometimes when we get into it or it gets intense watching a playoff game or commenting, doing analysis of the game, it’s like when we were playing because we’d talk in the dressing room or we’d talk on the ice and you get that feel again of that intensity,” Daneyko said.

The intensity is measured for a TV audience, of course, and the comfort level for two is clear. Just as they learned how to know where the other would be on the ice, a familiarity that made New Jersey such a hard team to score against, they are now trying to perfect their latest collaboration.

”We’ve been through a lot of wars and battles together,” Daneyko said. ”But now we talk about the battles and try to relay our insight on what those teams are going through, players are going through situations and certainly what it takes to win.”

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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Report: Devils looking to Penguins for assistant coaches

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On Tuesday the New Jersey Devils officially announced former AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes as the club’s new bench boss.

Now they’re reportedly looking back into the Penguins system for assistant coaches to fill out Hynes’ staff.

According to Tom Gulitti of The Record, the Devils have asked permission to speak with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach Alain Nasreddine.

The Devils gave Pittsburgh a 2016 third-round pick as compensation for Hynes, but would not be forced to send another pick to the Penguins if they hire Nasreddine.

Nasreddine, who appeared in 74 career NHL games with Chicago, Montreal, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh during his playing days, has worked with Hynes for the past five seasons in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

After spending the 2009-10 season playing professionally overseas, the 39-year-old was hired by current Devils GM Ray Shero to join Hynes’ staff in the AHL.

Gulitti reports that Shero will also interview former Devils’ captain Scott Stevens about a possible assistant coaching job.

Devils raise Scott Niedermayer’s No. 27 to rafters

Scott Niedermayer doesn’t have Martin Brodeur’s all-time records. He didn’t provide a highlight reel’s worth of bone-crushing hits like Scott Stevens. Instead, the silky-smooth defenseman made a mark on the NHL because of his speed, defensive acumen and all-around ability. He also happened to be a classy guy. For those reasons and more, the New Jersey Devils hoisted his No. 27 to the rafters tonight. Watch the banner-raising ceremony in the video below.

This story includes highlights from Niedermayer’s speech, including this quote.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be a New Jersey Devil,” Niedermayer said. “These memories, I will cherish the rest of my life.”

Devils to retire Scott Niedermayer’s “27” on December 16 vs. Dallas

It’s an honor that’s been rumored for some time now, but Scott Niedermayer will officially get his due from the New Jersey Devils having his number retired.

Niedermayer’s no. 27 will be lifted to the rafters at Prudential Center in Newark on December 16 against the Dallas Stars. Niedermayer will join former defensemen Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens as those honored by having their number retired by the team and proving that the Devils of the 90s and 2000s were all about being tough along the blue line.

Fire & Ice’s Tom Gulitti has the word from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello as to what Niedermayer meant to the organization and why he’s being honored by the team.

“Scott Niedermayer’s talent and leadership played significant roles in each of our three Stanley Cup Championships,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to welcoming the Niedermayer family back to New Jersey as we retire Scott’s no. 27.”

Niedermayer’s career started with the Devils as part of one of the more inauspicious deals in NHL history. While the Devils selected Niedermayer third in the NHL draft in 1991, it was a pick the Devils acquired from Toronto in exchange for Tom Kurvers in 1989. The Leafs’ blunder turned into New Jersey’s ultimate gain as Niedermayer went on to have a, likely, Hall Of Fame career in New Jersey and Anaheim while Kurvers lasted just 89 games in Toronto before being shipped off to Vancouver for Brian Bradley late in 1991.

Niedermayer went on to win four Stanley Cups in his career, three with New Jersey and one in Anaheim but his career in New Jersey is what made him a legend in NHL circles including a Norris Trophy in 2003-2004. Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe with Anaheim in 2007.  It’s an honor for the former Devil that comes a bit overdue since his retirement in last June.

Some Devils fans didn’t like how Niedermayer left the organization signing as a free agent with the Ducks after the lockout ended in 2005, but anyone thinking the Devils would’ve been as successful without his play is out of their mind. Niedermayer is one of the best the team and the league has seen over the years.

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: New Jersey Devils

The Devils haven’t always been the entertaining team on the ice, but they’ve been winners. That sort of attitude applies to their sweaters over the years, as they haven’t always been entertaining or controversial but they’ve always been great. From guys like Pat Verbeek and Chris Terreri to Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur, and Ilya Kovalchuk they’ve had the names but the same look on the ice. But what about those sweaters?

Best: Well, there’s not a lot of room for error here when examining the Devils’ sweaters of the past. They’ve had two different types of sweaters and, depending on your preference in colors that determines which way things fall here. Given that I’m just north of 30 years-old and spent my formative years watching hockey in the 80s and early 90s… I’m a big fan of the “Christmas” color jerseys the team adopted from the moment they arrived in New Jersey in 1982 that lasted until black replaced green in 1992.

Worst: The Devils haven’t done anything egregious at all in their history and I’m not about to call anything they’ve done to be the “worst” of anything. Some of you might take issue with the old days wearing green and red, but those sweaters still looked nice. Switching to black, while predictable in the early 90’s, made a ton of sense considering they’re named the Devils. After all, what colors do you see devils wearing in artistic representations most often? Yup.

Old-timey favorite: The Devils weren’t always in New Jersey. They were born originally in Kansas City as the Scouts and moved to Denver to become the Rockies. Of those previous iterations, the Kansas City Scouts sweater from 1974 is iconic for its wild striping, funky colors, and logo that paid homage to a Kansas City landmark and history as a western outpost.

Assessment: The Devils are about as boring with their sweaters as they were back in the mid-90s under Jacques Lemaire and the neutral zone trap.  The difference here is that people reflect upon the Devils sweaters and its interlocking “NJ” with love and admiration. After all, it was featured prominently in the film “Clerks” and if you don’t love “Clerks” you’re either not a child of the 90s or Kevin Smith himself. The Devils have avoided the third jersey plague and they’ve even brought back the green and red jerseys once a year for St. Patrick’s Day. What’s not to appreciate about that?