The Sharks’ struggling penalty kill (29th overall last season) got a much needed kick in the pants today with the official announcement of the hiring of Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson as the team’s new associate coach.
Robinson, who in addition to playing 17 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens (and winning six Stanley Cups) and three seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, has coached for the Kings and the New Jersey Devils (in both an assistant and head coach role. He won a Stanley Cup as head coach with the team in 2000). Robinson also won the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman, in 1977 and 1980.
Robinson joins the Sharks after spending last season as an assistant coach with the Devils, the team that ended the season with the best penalty kill in the NHL, at 89.6 percent compared to San Jose’s 76.9.
When asked about his penalty kill philosophy, Robinson told the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak:
“The biggest thing is, and I speak a little bit from our experience in other teams, is that we tend to sometimes lean on our best players as our penalty killers all the time and these guys get tired after a while.
“It’s good to have more than just two or three or four guys killing penalties,” he continued. “The more guys that you can rely on to kill penalties, it saves those guys more for other situations as far as five on five and power play.”
Robinson expressed confidence in the Sharks’ roster, and it should be interesting to see what he can do with defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who continues to improve each season but still hasn’t quite reached the level that is expected, and Jason Demers, whose inconsistency had him traveling to the Shark’s AHL affiliate in Worcester quite a bit last season. It’ll be good for Dan Boyle to have a strong offensive-minded defense coach that can hopefully push him up to another 60-plus point season.
Officially named the “associate coach,” Robinson reiterated to multiple news outlets that he wasn’t brought in to step-up in case Todd McClellan’s job performance considered unsatisfactory.
In the same breath, there has been no word on the job status of the Sharks’ two assistant coaches, Jay Woodcroft, who was in charge of the penalty kill last season, and Matt Shaw.
Oh, and please, please, please do a Google image search for Larry Robinson so you can check out the coif this guy was rocking while kicking ass with the Canadiens. There is an old trading card/senior portrait that is just pure gold.