There are certain hockey minds whose introduction into a team’s ecosystem immediately makes a positive impact. Larry Robinson possesses one such hockey mind.
His work with the New Jersey Devils during their 1995 (as an assistant coach), 2000 (as head coach) and 2003 (as an assistant, again) championships was that of a defenseman whisperer, but also someone whose sage advice permeated throughout the organization. He got them back to the Cup Final in 2001 as a head coach, and was a vital assistant for that 2012 team that made the Cup Final as well.
Then it was off to San Jose where he was an associate coach and director of player development and … well, look at that, the Sharks made their first Stanley Cup Final with Larry Robinson in the organization.
The other constant on those Devils teams was, of course, Martin Brodeur, who is now an assistant general manager with the St. Louis Blues. That’s a team with Alex Pietrangelo as their standout defenseman and Colton Parayko as the star-in-waiting. And now it’s a team that will have that Larry Robinson pixie dust sprinkled on them, too.
The Blues announced that Robinson has joined the organization as “Senior Consultant to Hockey Operations,” which sounds like the kind of made-up title you create so make “we’re paying Larry Robinson to help make us champions” sound more formal.
The Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman played in 1,384 regular season games and 227 playoff games in a 20-year NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens (1972-89) and the Los Angeles Kings (1989-92). As a player, he participated in the playoffs in every season in which he played, which is what happens when you played in Montreal during the 1970s and 80s.
I’ve written about The Larry Robinson Effect before. It’s not simply his one-on-one work with players; it’s how he identifies the virtues of every defenseman on the roster and understands, inherently, how they should be deployed. He makes great defensemen better. He makes your bottom pairing play much better than their rung on the roster ladder. Without knowing the actual level of his input and interaction, this could be a very big deal.
This new plan from the Blues is really compelling. Jake Allen can’t find that next level? Throw some Marty Brodeur at the problem. Want to make sure that five-year investment in Colton Parayko maxes out? Apply some Larry Robinson.
Now, get Brett Hull off the business development team and have him teach Tarasenko how to hit 70 goals after two six-packs …