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Scott Stevens #4 now in the rafters...


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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For once, Scott Stevens wasn't the toughest guy on the ice.


"I think this is the first time I've ever felt intimidated on this ice surface," the three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman told a sold-out crowd Friday night before the

New Jersey Devils made him the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Stevens' No. 4 was raised to the rafters of Continental Airlines Arena before New Jersey's game against the

Carolina Hurricanes. The ceremony lasted a little over 30 minutes, or nearly an hour shorter than a similar gala honoring former

New York Rangers great Mark Messier at Madison Square Garden last month.

The 41-year-old Stevens kept his composure during the ceremony, and appeared to falter only briefly during his remarks. Meanwhile, on the Devils bench television cameras caught forward Patrik Elias, who played with Stevens on the 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup teams, with a tear rolling down his cheek.

In 22 seasons, Stevens played in 1,635 regular-season games for Washington, St. Louis and New Jersey and was an All-Star 13 times, but he left a lasting impression in his 13 seasons with the Devils during which he captained them to Stanley Cups in 1995, 2000 and 2003.

A two-minute video highlights clip showed those moments as well as several of the bone-rattling body checks for which Stevens was known.

With his parents, Mary and Larry, his two brothers and his wife and three children in attendance, Stevens walked onto the ice Friday to a standing ovation that lasted a full three minutes. When it finally died down, he spoke briefly, thanking the members of the Devils organization from general manager Lou Lamoriello, who engineered the deal that brought Stevens from St. Louis in 1991, all the way down to the office staff.

"I am truly humbled and honored to be here tonight," Stevens said. "With your support, I had the best years of my career in this arena. I feel privileged to have played on three Stanley Cup championship teams and finally help the New Jersey Devils get the respect they deserve."

In taped interviews shown on the overhead scoreboard, current and former Devils players offered their thoughts on Stevens, who retired last September. Current Devil Brian Gionta called Stevens "the ultimate warrior."

Stevens received several gifts from the Devils, including a vintage bow-and-arrow (he is an avid hunter) and a new pickup truck. His No. 4 is painted on the floor on many of the entrances to the arena, and the Devils will wear the number on the shoulder of their jerseys. In addition, giant-sized action images of Stevens are painted on the stairways in the arena's lower level.

"I leave this incredible game with no regrets and only amazing memories," Stevens said in closing, before the crowd interrupted him again with chants of "Scott-y Stevens."

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

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