Wild hire Hall of Famer Scott Stevens as assistant coach

When Zach Parise heard that the Minnesota Wild had hired Scott Stevens as an assistant, he immediately texted new coach Bruce Boudreau to say it was an awesome move.

That's the kind of impact Boudreau wanted to have on his players by hiring Stevens, a Hall of Fame defenseman and one of the most feared and respected players in NHL history.

Stevens has previous coaching experience with the New Jersey Devils and is back in hockey after a year away as a television analyst.

''You look at the presence of him and what he's accomplished, how can he not be instantly respected, like, over the moon?'' Boudreau said by phone Tuesday.

''You don't get an opportunity to get somebody of Scott's ilk every day. If I'm starting with a team that's new, I want everybody to come in thinking, `Wow this is a great staff.'''

Parise, the Wild's biggest star, knew Stevens from their time together in New Jersey and should only benefit from his hiring even though defense is the 52-year-old responsibility.

Stevens, who spent three seasons behind the bench with the Devils, was itching to get back into coaching after working for NHL Network last season.

''I was disappointed I didn't coach last year after coaching for a few years, but the network was great,'' Stevens said. ''I enjoy being close to the action and right there behind the bench. It's as close as you can get (to) being a player.''

Stevens was a co-coach and assistant for the Devils, the team he won the Stanley Cup with three times as a player. He was an assistant for two seasons and was a co-coach along with Adam Oates and Lou Lamoriello after Peter DeBoer was fired midway through the 2014-15 season.

Fired by the Anaheim Ducks after another division title and another early playoff exit, Boudreau thought Stevens wanted to remain on the East Coast. Former Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who worked with Boudreau in Anaheim, called him to suggest Stevens and the two meshed almost perfectly.

Boudreau had a three-hour conversation with Stevens and his wife, Donna, before driving cross-country and came away excited about the possibility. That conversation also convinced Stevens that Minnesota was the right fit for him.

They didn't have a previous relationship, but Stevens said he has a ton of respect for Boudreau, who coached the Ducks and Washington Capitals before the Wild hired him.

''He has a way of getting the best out of players and teams, and that's intriguing to me,'' Stevens said.

''That's something I would like to see how he does that. He finds ways to get the most out of players. Players like to play for him. There's not a lot of coaches in the league that have that ability, and Bruce is one of those guys.''

With the Wild, Stevens is looking to add more dimensions to his coaching acumen and improve the blue line that features Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin.

''I like to teach ... a lot of those subtle things, fundamentals for a defenseman,'' Stevens said. ''Trying to help players reach their potential is something I like to do because it's rewarding and I know how hard it is to play this game.''

Stevens played 1,635 games with Washington, St. Louis and New Jersey, making 13 All-Star games and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000 as playoff MVP.

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