A native of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Stephane Matteau was chosen 25th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft while he was in the midst of a fine junior career with the QMJHL's Hull Olympiques. Matteau made his biggest impact in 1988-89 with 44 goals and 202 penalty minutes. Matteau scored 23 goals and played the body consistently during his first pro season with the IHL's Salt Lake Golden Eagles in 1989-90. The next year, he scored 15 goals and played a steady defensive game for the Flames as an NHL rookie. Early the next season, he suffered a thigh injury and was eventually traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in December 1991.
The grinding style of Matteau suited Hawks' coach Mike Keenan who used him extensively late in the season and during the club's drive to the 1992 Stanley Cup finals. He was a regular checker over the next two years before the New York Rangers acquired him prior to the March trade deadline in 1994. Matteau's grit and experience were key factors in the team's first Stanley Cup triumph since 1940. In addition to his relentless work ethic, the burly forward also counted two overtime winners in the Eastern Conference finals versus the New Jersey Devils.
Midway through the 1995-96 season, Matteau was traded to the St. Louis Blues where he was a solid performer in all situations. The club was attempting to adapt to the fast pace of the Western Conference so the veteran grinder was sent to the San Jose Sharks for offensive forward Darren Turcotte. Matteau fit in well with the Sharks who had plenty of skill and enthusiasm but lacked grit and playoff experience.
After five seasons in San Jose, Matteau was reunited with his head coach Mike Keenan in Florida, who had coached him in Chicago, New York and St. Louis. On a team which had little grit, Matteau became a calming and welcomed presence to the young Panthers, both on and off the ice. However, Matteau would play only one season with the club before announcing his retirement in the summer of 2003.