Unknown ailment causes rare sick days

NEW YORK -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens missed his fourth straight game Thursday night and is expected to be out another seven to 10 days because of an unknown ailment that might have been caused by a hit earlier this season.

Stevens, 39, hasn't played since Jan. 7 and was said to be sick with the flu.

New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello said Stevens has recovered from that but still isn't feeling well. After a series of tests, including blood and neurological studies, everything has been ruled out -- except possible post-concussion syndrome from an unknown hit.

"We're going to make sure he feels 100 percent," Lamoriello said. "He will be the determining factor, and he doesn't feel that way right now."

Stevens has complained of being tired and run down, since before he even missed any games, Lamoriello said during the first intermission of New Jersey's game against the New York Rangers.

"Today was the best he felt, so it's a good sign," said Lamoriello, who spoke to Stevens late Thursday afternoon. "We did every battery of tests we could possibly do. The only thing we could come up with at this point, preliminarily, is he got hit at some time."

The post-concussion theory is merely speculation. Stevens has seen outside doctors, but Lamoriello declined to reveal who they were or where they are located -- saying only that they covered all medical fields.

"The good news is everything has been ruled out of any consequence, and this is the last thing," Lamoriello said.

Before this stretch, the Devils captain hadn't missed a regular-season game because of injury or illness since the 1999-2000 season, when he also was out with the flu.

Stevens, voted to start for the Eastern Conference in next month's All-Star Game, missed a game earlier this season because of the death of a relative. The only two games the 22-year veteran missed in the three previous seasons were when he was a healthy scratch.

"For him to say he didn't feel good, you know he didn't feel good, and that alarms me," said Lamoriello, who added that Stevens' physical problems didn't affect his play.

Stevens, who has three goals and nine assists in 38 games this season, is expected to be placed on the injured list Friday. New Jersey had an open roster spot and recalled defenseman Sean Brown from Albany of the AHL.

Brown didn't play against the Rangers.