Monday, November 19, 2007


Big Bird

They seriously called Larry Robinson that back then. As a nickname.

Standing tall at 6'4" with blond, bushy hair and an imposing 225 pounds, Robinson was a complete defenseman for one of the most complete dynasties in sports history - the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s. That was a team loaded with talent: Scotty Bowman behind the bench, Ken Dryden in net, Guy Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer leading the attack, and a roster featuring Rejean Houle, Pete Mahovlich, and Steve Shutt; Larry Robinson stood out both in size and in play. He led the defense, which also featured Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard among other defensemen. Robinson was big, you didn't mess with him physically. Robinson was swift, you couldn't just get past him or slow him down too much. Robinson was skilled, becoming the all-time leader in goals (187) and assists (689) by a defenseman in the entire history of the Canadiens franchise. Robinson was a winner, winning 6 Stanley Cups - four in a row from 1976 to 1979, 2 Norris Trophies, and a Conn Smythe trophy as the defensive backbone for Montreal.

Robinson was a complete defenseman who was solid as a rock from 1973 through 1989, and he wasn't terrible in a two year stint with the LA Kings shortly thereafter. Robinson wasn't through with hockey, becoming an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils in 1993. He was so pronounced at it that he became a head coach with the Kings a few years later. In 1999 he returned to the Devils as an assistant which also didn't last too long as he became the head coach with New Jersey again in 2000. After infamously throwing a garbage can in the playoffs, the Devils reloaded in the Eastern Conference Finals and defeated Dallas in the Stanley Cup Finals, earning Robinson's sole Stanley Cup win as a head coach. He remained in the organization, became a head coach for a bit, left due to health problems, but remains as an assistant on the current team.

Nobody can doubt Robinson's accolades, as he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. But tonight, Robinson gets further established as a Montreal and hockey legend as his number was retired prior to the Canadiens hosting the Ottawa Senators. The Devils official website has a piece on Robinson for his night of glory, the official website of Les Habs just let numbers do the talking. Nobody wore #19 since Robinson and now no one else will ever do so for Montreal. Not that anyone would want to have to live up to wearing that number.

The same probably goes for his nickname.

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