(File photo: The Gazette/Allen McInnis)
Larry Robinson was back on the ice in Montreal Saturday morning with the San Jose Sharks as the team prepares to face the Canadiens Saturday night. (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690)
The 62-year-old hall of fame defenceman who won six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and three more coaching with the New Jersey Devils is now in his second season as an associate coach with the Sharks.
Robinson keeps everything in perspective, forward Joe Thornton said after the Sharks’ morning skate at the Bell Centre.
“He’s been so awesome for all of us guys,” Thornton said. “If there’s kind of a stressful moment on the bench, he just kind of relaxes everybody. He’s been a big help for a lot of us.”
The Sharks had one of the best penalty-kill percentages last year after having the second worst percentage among NHL teams in 2011-12.
Robinson and assistant coach Jim Johnson set a brand new penalty kill “and it’s been working for us–pressure everywhere,” said Sharks defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a Montreal native who expects to have about 30 family members and friends at Saturday’s game against the Canadiens.
“He does keep things loose out there. You probably heard him in practice today. He’s always yelling. He’s cracking jokes. He likes to keep the guys in a good mood. He’s a great guy to have around,” Vlasic said.
“Just the other day he was telling me how to shoot. I’ve been shooting for 26 years and he tells me my hand is too low. So little details like that that he can improve your game on.”
Robinson has had a huge impact, said Sharks coach Todd McLellan.
“He takes a lot of stress way from a lot of people in certain situations,” he said.
“He’s very astute obviously as a player. He thinks like a player. But he communicates like a coach and those tools are really remarkable for a coaching staff to have,” McLellan said.
The Sharks’ defencemen have transformed their game over the last year and a half, said McLellan, adding that Johnson also deserves a “big chunk of credit” as well.
“Between the two of them, they’ve got the back end playing really well.”
You can hear a bit of what Robinson had to say after the Sharks’ morning skate here: