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Turner-ing back the clock

Stevenson recalls the 1990 Entry Draft

Saturday, 06.26.2010 / 12:14 PM ET / Draft
By Eric Marin
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Turner-ing back the clock
Stevenson hoists the Cup in 2003.
LOS ANGELES – Twenty years since Turner Stevenson was drafted eight spots ahead of Martin Brodeur, it remains a running gag between the former Devils teammates.

“I always tease him I was ahead of him then, but he’s been ahead of me ever since then,” Stevenson said Friday at the 2010 Entry Draft. He was taken 12th overall by Montreal in 1990, while Brodeur was taken 20th after the Devils traded down from 11th.

That day’s events would create a minor conflict of interest for Brodeur’s father, Denis, Sr., who was there both as Montreal’s team photographer – and as the very proud dad of the Devils’ newest prospect.

“Once the pick went through, they take your family in back with the coach and the GM,” Stevenson recalled. “His dad was starting our pictures, our family’s all there, my sisters and everything. The pick goes by, then Marty gets picked so we had to stop. Worst thing is, I had Marty buy me a dinner because we had to stand around for the next 45 minutes while his dad took off to go take pictures of him while he was working for the Canadiens.”

Stevenson and Brodeur – two players from one of the most talented first rounds in history – would wind up together in 2003 when the Devils won their third Stanley Cup.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Stevenson, who still speaks to Brodeur a few times a season. “That draft, that year has been one of the best with all the guys that have won and more so for him; a Hall of Fame career for sure. Great guy and a great player.”

Eleven of the 21 first-rounders taken in 1990 played in over 900 NHL games, and nine went on to make 1,000 appearances. Including Brodeur, five were still active in the NHL last season: Owen Nolan (1st overall, Quebec), Darryl Sydor (7th, Los Angeles), Brad May (14th, Buffalo), and Keith Tkachuk (19th, Winnipeg), who announced his retirement in April.

Jaromir Jagr, ninth all-time in points, was selected fifth overall by Pittsburgh and went on to win two Cups with the Penguins.

“It’s amazing just with the amount of guys that have won Stanley Cups,” Stevenson said. “There were a lot of great players and guys who were cornerstones to their organizations for a long time, so I’m proud to be a part of that."

Stevenson, 38, spent four seasons in New Jersey from 2000-01 to 2003-04, and finished his playing career with Philadelphia in 2005-06. He has since joined the coaching ranks and will enter his fourth season as an assistant with Seattle (WHL) this fall. He was in Los Angeles to attend pro coaching clinics.

Perhaps no coach in Stevenson’s own career made a bigger impact than Pat Burns. He was among those who had hoped Burns’ name would be announced to the 2010 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“He was great for our team, for who he was and how he ran our team and the respect that he had from all the guys,” Stevenson said. “He let us do our thing and he’ll always be a huge influence on all of us.”

Though Burns, who’s battling serious health issues, was passed over for the Hall this year, Stevenson seemed certain his day would come. Burns not only guided the Devils to the 2003 title, but is the only coach in NHL history to win three Jack Adams awards as coach of the year.

“A great man,” Stevenson said of Burns. “Not only him but another ex-Devil Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t get in, which is a little bit surprising, and another Devil Dave Andreychuk. A lot of great players, but they’ll get in. I’m sure eventually those names will be called.”