Stevens, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, was the first player to have his jersey retired by the Devils. His No. 4 hangs from the rafters at the Prudential Center, next to Scott Niedermayer (No. 27) and Ken Daneyko (No. 3), also defencemen who joined Stevens in leading New Jersey to three Stanley Cup titles (1995, 2000, and 2003).
"I've been away from the game. I kept my foot in the door, but I've been away a while now. Just the way things transpired with the coaching staff, there's an opportunity and it just feels right now," Stevens said. "I enjoy what I've been doing, but I just feel like I'm ready to jump in full time. I'm kind of excited to get behind the bench and really be a part of the game and a part of the process of helping the defencemen."
New Jersey also named Matt Shaw an assistant. They will replace Adam Oates, who took the head coaching position with the Washington Capitals, and Larry Robinson, who left for an associate coaching job with the San Jose Sharks.
Also, Dave Barr will remain an assistant on coach Peter DeBoer's staff, as will goaltending coach Chris Terreri, another former Devil, who won the Cup with New Jersey as Martin Brodeur's backup in 1995.
"Peter is very sharp, and very intelligent, in having a plan of where he wants to go with things," Shaw said. "I'm glad I fit his mould."
In DeBoer's first year with the team, New Jersey, a No. 6 seed in the playoffs last year, defeated the Panthers, Flyers and Rangers en route to its fifth Eastern Conference title. The Devils lost to Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup finals.
"Pete came in and made some changes and the team keeps evolving. It's on the cutting edge here. The team got better and better at Pete's system," Stevens said. "It took a while, after playing a certain system for so many years, but there's no question the guys really bought into it and made a good run to go to the Stanley Cup finals. They should be better at that system and there's a few more things to add as the team gets a feel for what he's trying to do."
After a career year in 1993-94, Stevens was re-signed to a new deal by Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello. A year later, the franchise had its first Stanley Cup.
"Both Peter and I look forward to the additions of Scott and Matt," Lamoriello said. "They bring experience to our coaching staff with Scott's 22 years as a Hall of Fame defenceman and five seasons as a special assignment coach, and Matt's 19 seasons of coaching success at every level."
Shaw spent the past three seasons as an assistant with San Jose. He was also on the staff in Minnesota, when former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was leading the Wild. Shaw will work with the Devils' power play unit.
"It's a great opportunity with a storied franchise," Shaw said. "When an opportunity comes up, at this time of year, to be able to be involved with a franchise like this, it is an exciting opportunity."
Stevens played with Washington and St. Louis, but truly moulded his career in New Jersey. He posted a career-high 78 points in 1993-94, becoming the only defenceman ever to lead New Jersey in scoring, and in 2000, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most outstanding player in the post-season.
"You always miss the action. I think every player's always going to miss playing. That's what we grew up doing, playing the game, and that's what we know best," Stevens said. "But I've put playing aside now and I'm ready to move on to something different and maybe trying to win it a different way. And that's the goal here."
Stevens was an NHL All-Star 13 times.
"I've had some time and I've done a lot of things, I've been very busy. I find that now I have a little bit more time on my hands and I'm kind of itching to get back into the game," Stevens said. "I'm looking forward to being around the defencemen and the team for more time and having some input."