Surrounded by his family at centre ice, Stevens watched as his No. 4 jersey was raised to the rafters of Continental Airlines Arena before the Devils' contest against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I think this is the first time I've ever felt intimidated on this ice surface," the three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenceman told the sold-out crowd as he became the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.
While the 41-year-old Stevens kept his composure during the 30-minute ceremony, 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.
Scott Stevens won three Stanely Cups with the New Jersey Devils. (CP photo)
The Devils used that emotion in one of their best performances of the year. Netminder Martin Brodeur posted his 100th career shutout in a 3-0 victory.
Stevens, is the third future Hall of Famer to have his number retired in 2006. Carolina honoured Ron Francis last Saturday and Mark Messier saw his number retired by the New York Rangers on Jan. 12.
Renowned for his bone-crushing hits and his leadership skills, Stevens told reporters this week that hard work was the key to his success on the ice.
"Every year, I always felt that I had to make the team," said Stevens, who retired before training camp last September. "I felt every training camp I had to prove myself. I never took anything for granted."
"All you had to do was watch him in practice day in and day out and watch him compete, and that was what you wanted to be the foundation for the other players to follow by example," said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello.
After receiving a three-minute standing ovation and watching a highlight-reel full of his greatest hits and career moments in Friday's ceremony, Stevens graciously thanked the Devils organization for the influence they had in his career.
"I am truly humbled and honoured 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."
Stevens captained the Devils to three Stanley Cup championships (1995, 2000 and 2003) during his 13 seasons with the team. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2000 as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
"All of them were very special," he said. "The first one in 1995, I had already been in the league about 14 years, so when it takes that long you start to wonder if it's ever going to happen."
The Kitchener, Ont., native, who also played for St. Louis and Washington, appeared in 1,635 regular-season games – more than any other NHL defenceman – and racked up 196 goals and 712 assists during 22 seasons in the NHL.
Stevens also holds the NHL record for most career playoff games by a defenceman (233), and was named to 13 all-star teams.
Next month, the Devils will retire defenceman Ken Daneyko's No. 3 before a game against Boston.