Canadian Sports Legends: Where Are They Now? .... Larry Robinson
Larry Robinson was born in Winchester, Ontario in 1951 and was raised on a dairy farm in Marvelville, Ontario. Growing up in the Ottawa Valley he should have been a Leafs or Habs fan, but instead cheered for the Blackhawks and his childhood idol Bobby Hull. He played Junior 'A' hockey with the Brockville Braves of the CJHL and the Kitchener Rangers before being drafted 20th overall (the same year that the Habs used their #1 pick to take Guy Lafleur) in the 1971 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens in the fourth round. He then spent two years with the AHL’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs before making his NHL debut in January 1973. He quickly established himself as a presence on the blue line and in his first NHL season found himself hoisting the first of many Cups to come.
Nicknamed “The Bird”, Robinson’s size, speed, toughness and presence in all three zones of the ice have secured his legacy as a true hockey warrior and one of the NHL’s top Defenceman of all times. As part of the “Big Three” defensive corps (alongside Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe) Robinson helped build the Habs’ dynasty that would go on to win five Stanley Cups between 1973 and 1979 (they added one more in 1986 just to remind everyone how great they were). In 1989, after 17 years entrenched in the bleu, blanc et rouge of les Canadiens, Larry left Montreal for Los Angeles to join Wayne Gretzky and the Kings as a free agent. After playing three seasons in LA, Robinson decided to hang up his skates … as a player. During his 20-year NHL career, Larry scored 208 goals, 750 assists and 958 regular-season points as well as 144 points in 227 playoff games, an incredible achievement for a defenceman. In addition to his NHL duties, Robinson represented Team Canada in the 1976, 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments - all three were Canadian victories.
Larry was not done writing his hockey story … in 1993 Robinson was appointed assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. Two years later, in 1995, the team won the Stanley Cup. Later that same year, Robinson was named head coach of the L.A. Kings and in 1999 ended up back behind the bench in New Jersey, winning another Cup in 2000. Are you counting … that’s his 8th Stanley Cup … but he wasn’t done yet! He was rehired as an assistant coach with New Jersey prior to the 2002-03 season, and the Devils went on to take the Cup that year. Robinson took on various roles with Devils’ organization over the next 10 years and at the end of the 2011/12 season he moved West and joined the Sharks as an associate coach. Most recently he has been a scout and consultant for the St. Louis Blues and you guessed it …. earned his 10th Stanley Cup ring in 2019 … one for each finger (and thumb)!
Robinson’s career highlights and achievements include:
- Robinson’s name appears on the Stanley Cup ten times ... so far!
- Holds the NHL record (together with Nicklas Lidstrom) for most consecutive playoff seasons with 20… that’s right, he never missed the playoffs during his NHL career.
- Two-time recipient of the James Norris Memorial Trophy (1977 and 1980) as the league's most outstanding defenceman.
- Awarded the Conn Smyth Trophy as the most valuable player of the 1978 playoffs.
- Holds the NHL career record for best plus-minus rating at an impressive 730 … Bobby Orr is ranked second with 597.
- One of only two players (Bobby Orr being the other) in NHL history to have a single season plus-minus rating greater than 100.
- Appeared in ten All-Star games
- Inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995
What’s Larry doing now?
Robinson actively supports a number of charitable initiatives and continues to be active in the Hockey World. Larry has made it clear that in he is always a “Hab” at heart and hasn’t ruled out the idea of returning to the storied franchise at some point in the future… wouldn’t that be a fantastic way for Larry to close out his legendary hockey career.
Headline Photo Credit: Montreal Gazette