Montreal Canadiens hall of famer and seven-time Stanley Cup winner Larry Robinson will not be a candidate for the Canadiens open assistant coaching gig but he is open to becoming a consultant to Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis and his staff next season.
Since news broke over the weekend that the Montreal Canadiens would be losing assistant coach Luke Richardson, who has since taken the head coaching job for the Chicago Blackhawks, there have been plenty of rumours and suggestions as to who should should replace him. One name that came up – as it always does with Canadiens fans and media that covered him doing some wishful thinking – was Robinson. The Canadiens legend went on to a rather successful coaching career after his playing days were over and won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the New Jersey Devils in 1999-00. He also led the Devils to Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final.
Per Montreal Gazette puck scribe Stu Cowan though, after 16 seasons of coaching, Larry Robinson, 71, is finally done with manning an NHL bench as an assistant or head coach. In a wide-ranging interview with Cowan, Robinson instead chose to focus on the job the current head coach of the Montreal Canadiens has done so far, despite very limited experience.
“I wasn’t shocked, but I guess I was surprised,” said Robinson, of the St. Louis hire. “That was the last name that came to my mind when they were looking for a coach. But having watched the way he handled the team and the job that he did, I think it’s a great fit. I remember him as a player, just the passion and the will to win was second-to-none and he also is a French-Canadian, which helps as well because he’s able to converse in both languages.”
Robinson did point out that it will be crucial that St. Louis replaces Richardson with the right fit.
“The thing that they say about anything is: ‘You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,’” Robinson said. “With his lack of experience, if he has good assistants around him he’ll do fine. Coaching is not a science, it’s a feel. He had a feel for what it takes as a player and all he has to do is convert that feeling and put it into words of a teacher now and if he gets his point across then I think he’ll have success.”
The man Canadiens fans affectionately called ‘Big Bird’ due to his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame had one more bit of advice for St. Louis who will be entering his first full season as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
“Stick to what you believe in. I think that’s the biggest advice I have for him. Probably the most important thing — and I see it in today’s game — as much as you want goals scored, defence still wins championships,” said Robinson who proved that as a player and a coach.