UPDATED with Stevens, Boudreau, Parise quotes, preseason schedule on the bottom
A well-known, respected name has joined Bruce Boudreau's bench.
Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens has gotten what has been qualified as the first assistant of the two openings. He will coach the D and the penalty kill
Stevens, who played 22 years in the NHL for the Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils and played in 13 All-Star Games, captained the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final four times from 1995-2003. They won three Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003, and he was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP in 2000.
"I love helping, I love teaching, I love talking hockey," Stevens said during a phone interview. "I love to give whatever I've learned over the years playing the game. I love seeing players reach their potential and find consistency in their game. When you find that consistency and how to maintain that, that’s when you become a great player. I had to learn that."
Although he always seemed to be a Norris Trophy runner-up or finalist, Stevens, 52, never won one probably because he wasn't a big point-getter after leaving Washington. But the fifth overall pick in the 1982 draft was one of the most physical, intimidating defensemen of his era, a proven winner and leader and amazingly never had a minus season in his career.
Remember, the Wild's penalty kill ranked 27th last season.
"He's the quietest and humblest Hall of Famer you'll ever meet," Zach Parise said via text. "He's going to be so good for us and our D and PK."
Stevens was so excited to work with Parise and raved about the mobility of the Wild's D. He thinks Jonas Brodin is ready to take the next step, says he has admired Ryan Suter's all-around game for years, can't wait to work with big, strong Marco Scandella and help Matt Dumba and Mike Reilly mold their games.
We'll see if all those guys are around next season because it's likely the Wild use one of its D in a trade this summer, maybe at. this month's draft.
This is a strong get for the Wild. His knowledge of defense is unsurpassed, he's a strong communicator and his resume means the Wild's D and all players have to listen. Parise and Suter were frustrated at times this season, so Stevens will be good to have around for those two guys.
"Just to bring in his expertise and history, I think that's a real bonus for us," Boudreau said. "He is one of the greatest defensemen and well respected. I think he’ll have instant respect. Any team would have loved to have him, but until now, he wasn’t ready to leave New Jersey."
Stevens was most recently an analyst on NHL Network. In fact, it's a coincidence I've been pursuing this news the last few days because last week in Pittsburgh, I watched NHL Network throw to him in studio in Secaucus and I went on and on to my media folks how good he has gotten on TV.
But I've heard the last few days he really wanted to get back into coaching. He served as both an assistant coach with Devils and a "co-coach" with Adam Oates after Lou Lamoriello fired Pete DeBoer.
Boudreau has no history with Stevens, but Ducks special assignment coach and Stevens' former teammate, Hall of Famer, Scott Niedermayer called Boudreau on Stevens' behalf. When Boudreau got to his offseason home in Hershey, he drove to Stevens' home in Far Hills, New Jersey, to meet with Stevens for a few hours. Boudreau said they hit it off and were on the same page. So did Stevens.
"We connected right away," Stevens said. "It felt like I had known Bruce for 20 years. We talked for two hours and it felt like it was 30 minutes talking hockey."
In Devils history, Stevens ranks first with a plus-282, fourth with 956 games, second among defensemen behind Niedermayer with 430 points and fourth with 1,779 shots.
His 1,635 games are second all-time among defensemen -- 16 games behind Chris Chelios. His 908 points rank 12th among defensemen, his 2,785 penalty minutes rank fourth and his 3,240 shots rank 11th.
His plus-393 in the regular season is tied for 13th all-time.
His 233 playoff games rank sixth all-time among all players -- 33 games behind Chelios.
As for the second assistant, Boudreau said there are a lot of viable candidates and he hopes to have an announcement by the end of the week or early next week. The second assistant will run the power play with Boudreau.
Longtime NHLer Steve Thomas was recently let go by Tampa Bay. Boudreau knows him, but he said they haven't spoken yet. Boudreau's right-hand man Bob Woods helped run the power play in Anaheim and is still a candidate, Boudreau indicated, but Woods is GM and coach in Saskatoon, so it would seem unlikely he'd leave for a second assistant job.
The Wild also retained assistant coach Darby Hendrickson and goalie coach Bob Mason, but it'll be hiring a new strength and conditioning coach after letting go Kirk Olson, sources say. The Wild also let go longtime medical trainer Don Fuller, a great guy who had been with the organization for 16 years since the inception.
The Wild announced its six-game 2016-17 preseason schedule. The Wild will play three games at Xcel Energy Center, including home-and-home series against Central Division opponents Colorado and Winnipeg. Minnesota will also host the Carolina Hurricanes and play a road game against the Buffalo Sabres at a location to be announced.
2016-17 Minnesota Wild Preseason Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time (CDT)
Monday, Sept. 26 at Buffalo Sabres TBD TBD
Tuesday, Sept. 27 Colorado Avalanche Xcel Energy Center 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept 29 at Winnipeg Jets MTS Centre 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 2 Carolina Hurricanes Xcel Energy Center 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 4 at Colorado Avalanche Pepsi Center 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 8 Winnipeg Jets Xcel Energy Center 7 p.m.
All Minnesota Wild preseason games will be available on KFAN 100.3 FM.
Preseason tickets will go on sale Thursday, Aug. 25 at 10 a.m. at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations and Wild.com. Pricing for Minnesota Wild preseason and regular season tickets along with the on-sale date for regular season tickets will be announced at a later date.
The NHL is expected to release the 2016-17 regular season schedule later this month.