Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hockey Player of the Week: Larry Robinson

Holy shit I'm behind. I'm gonna spend my shift working on my b-day to try and catch up on blogposts. Today's Hockey Player is one of the greatest defensemen of all time; if he's not mentioned in the first all-time defensive pair, he's definitely in the second. That's right, he's up there with Orr, Harvey, Lidström, and Bourque. He is the all-time leader in career plus/minus, and a two-time Norris winner. He is:

#19, Larry Robinson



Larry Robinson was best known as Big Bird to his contemporaries - probably because the hair created a fringe similar to the Muppet of the same name. But what is undeniable is that Robinson was one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He was #25 on the Hockey News's list of the top 100 players - but there has never been a better D on Le Club de Hockey Canadien - except for Doug Harvey, of course.

Robinson was also #2 for most of his early career to another very famous defenseman: Bobby Orr. He often finished second in Norris voting to the perennial defense champ (who was arguably the best hockey player of all time). Big Bird outlasted Orr, though. He played 20 seasons and made the playoffs each time - and won six cups as a player. He was also a Conn Smythe winner.

Big Bird was a massive figure on the Montreal blue line - 6'5", and a hugely intimidating physical figure. In the wunderkind Montreal team of the 70s, people knew that if they had to get to Ken Dryden, they had to go through Robinson, a task no hockey player looked forward to.

For his career, Larry was +730, a record that will probably never be broken, due to the sheer dominance of Montreal for those 10 years in the 70s. He was never a minus player, and owned every blue line he was on, no matter who was in front of him - be it Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Beliveau, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, or Wayne Gretzky.

But there's more. Larry has coached in the NHL as well, first for the Kings in the post-Wayne era (they didn't do so hot), and later for the Devils. Robinson coached the Devils to the 2000 Stanley Cup and the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals; he was fired the next year, but came back in time to be assistant to the famous Pat Burns in 2003. He's been a part of the Devils organization a few times since.

He joined the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, and Larry's #19 was retired by the Habs for his service to the team. He was one of the greatest players we ever had, and we should be lucky to see another man of his stature and statesmanship on Montreal in the future.

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