Larry Robinson has been a fixture for two decades with the Devils. Whether it's been as an assistant helping turn Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer into Hall Of Fame defensemen or taking over for Robbie Ftorek to lead the red and black to a second Stanley Cup in 2000, Big Bird's always been well received in the area. Wanting to be closer to home, he'll try to help San Jose figure the winning part out.
The one year I got to see one of the game's great defensemen up close in '00-01, Robinson epitomized class. Even if I was a blip on the radar screen interning for Stan Fischler over at Devils practice, he answered one of my questions at their old facility. That's just who he is. A personable coach who cares a great deal about the game we love. He loves his players and it showed when he had to step down during a second stint post-lockout. One of the saddest days for New Jersey because they let a great man down.
Despite that, Lou Lamoriello brought Robinson back as an assistant where he worked wonders with their no-name defense alongside Pete DeBoer. As Hasan alluded to all year, nobody would ever think a blueline of Greene, Volchenkov, Fayne, Salvador, Zidlicky, Harrold, Larsson and Tallinder would ever be able to get through the East falling just short against the Robinson's former team the Kings.
That's the magic of the laid back coach who knows a thing or two about being a great defenseman. His plus-minus has been well documented. Throughout a Hall Of Fame career that included six Cups with Montreal, he was a plus-730. An NHL record that still stands along with a remarkable plus-120 during 1976-77. One of only two players to ever eclipse plus-100 in a season. Robinson considers his first Cup as a head coach as his favorite moment.
"Considering how long I played hockey and how many Cups I got to win as a defenseman with Montreal, it was my first Stanley Cup win as a head coach that is actually my greatest day in hockey."The Devils lose a quality man who's led whereever he's been. A calming influence who's been a staple of their success. Their search for a new assistant started yesterday. Whoever replaces him will have big shoes to fill.