SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks hired Hall of Fame defenceman and former Stanley Cup winning coach Larry Robinson as associate coach on Monday.
The Sharks had been looking to add a former player who could help the penalty kill unit to the staff and Robinson fit the bill with his vast experience on the ice and as a coach.
“His resume speaks for itself,” said general manager Doug Wilson, who was Robinson’s defensive partner on Team Canada in the 1984 Canada Cup. “There’s nobody in this business that I respect more as a player, as a coach, or as a person than Larry. It’s an exciting day for our organization.”
Despite having experience as a head coach with Los Angeles and New Jersey and winning a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000, Robinson made clear that he knows his role with the Sharks is to help coach Todd McLellan.
“That was the first thing I said when I came into room. I don’t want to be a head coach,” he said. “I’m not here to take Todd’s job. I want to help in any way I can.”
Robinson left the Devils so he could be closer to his grandchildren in Southern California. He did not want to take the job until visiting the Bay Area and meeting in person with McLellan. The two hit it off immediately and share a link to Jacques Lemaire. Robinson was a teammate of Lemaire’s in Montreal, later played for him on the Canadiens and was on his staff in New Jersey.
McLellan learned from Lemaire as a minor league coach in the Minnesota Wild system when Lemaire was a coach in the NHL.
“We have a lot of common beliefs,” McLellan said. “I can see us having some good debates as well. I think that will be healthy for both myself and Larry and for our hockey club.”
Robinson main role will be to focus on the defence and penalty kill. The Sharks had the second worst penalty kill record last season, a major reason why they struggled to make the playoffs and then were knocked out by St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs.
San Jose had made it to the Western Conference finals the previous two seasons but have never made it as far as the Stanley Cup despite a talented core that features Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle and Brent Burns.
Robinson said he thought the Sharks were one of the most talented teams in the league and he wants to help them take that next step.
“As a hockey player, you need somebody you can talk to about different things,” Robinson said. “Even if you’re the best player in the world, at some point you have be told you’re doing something wrong. My job is to make them not just good hockey players, but better hockey players.”
Robinson won two Norris Trophies as the league’s top defenceman and was the playoff MVP in 1978 during a 17-year career with Montreal and Los Angeles. He won six Stanley Cups as a player and made the playoffs a record 20 consecutive seasons.
He was a 10-time all-star and his plus-730 career rating is the best in NHL history. He finished with 207 career goals and 751 assists, ranking ninth all-time for defencemen in points and assists. Robinson was also named the greatest defenceman in Canadiens history at the team’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2009.
“His experience is obviously something we covet,” McLellan said. “As a young coaching staff in San Jose, I think he’ll bring many things to the table. The credibility that Larry has the minute he walks into the locker room with the very young players obviously but also the veteran players who have played in the league for 10 or 15 years is important.”
The Sharks also have re-signed forward TJ Galiardi to a one-year, US$950,000 contract that avoids salary arbitration.
Galiardi was acquired at the trade deadline from Colorado in a deal for forward Jamie McGinn. Galiardi struggled in his short time with the Sharks, posting one goal and no assists in 14 games. He also had no points in three playoff games.