Robinson brings experience, credibilty to staff

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Robinson brings experience, credibilty to staff

The Sharks officially introduced the newest member of the organization on Monday, and theres a prevailing feeling that they didnt hire just an assistant coach.

They hired the assistant coach.

Larry Robinson is undeniably one of the most respected men in hockey not surprising, when you consider his name is on the Stanley Cup nine times (six as a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, three as a coach with the New Jersey Devils). Most recently, Robinson helped guide the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals as an assistant to Peter DeBoer, where they lost to the Kings in six games.

Now, hes a part of Todd McLellans staff with the Sharks, and immediately becomes McLellans right-hand man.

His resume speaks for itself, so I dont need to get into that, Doug Wilson said via conference call on Monday. Theres nobody in this business I respect more as a player, as a coach, and as a person than Larry. Its a very exciting day for our organization.

RATTO: Sharks' hire of Robinson not what you think

McLellan said: Im extremely excited to have Larry join our staff and our organization. His experience is obviously something that we covet. As a young coaching staff here in San Jose, I think that hell bring many things to the table.

While its expected that Robinson will advise and assist McLellan and the rest of the staff on every facet of the game, hell work specifically with the teams defense and its penalty kill strategy. The Sharks finished 29th out of 30 on the PK last season, and were even worse in the playoffs, which is why Wilson has made fixing that area a priority this offseason.

McLellan and Robinson, who didnt know each other very well before discussions began to add Robinson to the staff, havent spoken specifically about that just yet. But, Robinson did offer up some of his philosophies on it.

I do have a few ideas and a few things that hopefully will help it move up the ranks, he said of the penalty kill. The league is a specialty league, so you can win and lose games with your power play and your penalty kill. There are definitely things that we can work on.

Positioning is a big thing in penalty killing. Its fine to be aggressive, but you have to be smart-aggressive. The biggest thing is, and I speak from some prior experience in other teams, is that we tend to sometimes lean on our best players as our penalty killers all the time. These guys get tired after awhile. Its good to have more than just two, three or four guys killing penalties.

The Hockey Hall-of-Famer Robinson, a 10-time NHL All-Star and two-time Norris Trophy winner as the leagues best defenseman, had nothing but good things to say about the Sharks despite their disappointing finish and first round ouster to St. Louis. The Sharks and Devils met just once last season in New Jersey, with San Jose pulling out a 4-3 shootout victory on Oct. 21, the first of five straight wins for the Sharks.

I like the team a lot, Robinson said. They scared the crap out of us when they came into New Jersey last year, and we thought they were probably one of the best teams in the league.

Robinson was asked about some preconceived notions regarding the Sharks, specifically that the team is too laid back to take that extra step and win a Stanley Cup.

He doesnt put any credence into those outside opinions.

Until youre inside and living with people on a day-to-day basis, its too difficult to make any assumptions at all. A lot of it is just hearsay, Robinson said. I dont listen to perceptions. I make my own mind up.

He also wanted to make it clear that hes not here as a head coach in waiting, should the team get off to a poor start.

That was the first thing that I said when I came into the room I do not want to be a head coach. Im not here to take Todds job. Im here to help in any way I can. I wouldnt want to be a head coach knowing that theres somebody with a gun behind me waiting to shoot me whenever something went wrong.

Well work things out when theyre not going right, but youve got the best head coach here in the best position possible and I dont foresee any problems at all.

Assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw will remain on the staff, and the specific roles for everyone will be determined prior to training camp. Robinson is listed as an associate coach, just under McLellan.

When I look at our slotting as far as assistant coaches or associate coaches, theres an A, B, C and a D slot. In my opinion, weve fulfilled that B slot right now, and that would be the associate coachs role, McLellan said.

The two do have one connection in common. Both are familiar with long time NHL coach Jacques Lemaire McLellan as the head coach of the Houston Areos in the Minnesota organization while Lemaire was the coach of the Wild, and Robinson as an assistant coach to Lemaire in the mid-1990s in New Jersey and again in 2010-11.

We have a lot of common beliefs, and I can see having some good debates, as well, MeLellan said. I think that will be healthy for myself and for Larry, and in terms of our hockey club.

Robinson said: "Even if youre the best player in the world, at some point you need to be told that youre doing something wrong. Its my job to try and not only make them good hockey players, but better hockey players. If it means taking them out for lunch, or it means kicking them in the butt, whatever it takes or whatever Todd decides I should do, thats what were going to do.

The Sharks werent the only team to approach Robinson about joining their staff. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens were two clubs in particular that inquired about Robinsons availability after he decided he would not return to the Devils.

The reason for his move to the West Coast had plenty to do with family, and Robinson repeatedly mentioned that his wife wanted to be closer to the pair of grandchildren they have in Redondo Beach in Southern California.

Robinson also expressed that he wasnt ready to retire just yet, despite a long and distinguished NHL career.

I just felt like this was the right move for me. It allows me to not only come here to work with some great people, but also to work with an organization that I think is going in the right direction, giving me another chance to win another Cup.

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

Rewind: Sharks get the bounces in imperfect win against Hurricanes

SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ performance over the Hurricanes on Saturday night at SAP Center won’t be one that the team re-watches and reflects back upon as a model for how they want to perform.

Still, after deserving better in last Wednesday’s loss to Ottawa, and maybe even Friday’s defeat to the rival Ducks, there was a sense that the 4-3 win was essentially an evening out of their recent luck. San Jose had just 20 shots on goal, tying their season low, but four of them beat Cam Ward. That includes the second period when their shooting percentage was a lofty 50 percent (four shots, two goals).

“It’s good to see the puck go in for a few guys,” Joe Pavelski said. “The bounces – that’s why you just have to keep playing. I would have thought we would have won the other two games before this one.”

Pete DeBoer said: “I think when you look at the week, out of the three games we played, it was probably our poorest of the three. But we found a way to win, and the other two we lost, maybe we deserved better. That's hockey.”

After falling behind 2-0 in each of their last two games, the Sharks jumped on the Hurricanes just 12 seconds in when Patrick Marleau scored on a two-on-one with Joe Thornton.

Aaron Dell was surely chuffed after that one. In a previous start against Carolina on Nov. 15, the first-year backup stood on his head but got no support in a 1-0 loss.

“It’s a good feeling to get one right away,” Dell said.

The difference in the game was the Sharks’ pair of second period goals, after they had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 wiped away. Logan Couture’s redirection of a Brent Burns shot put San Jose ahead to stay, 3-2, while Kevin Labanc’s second goal in as many nights on the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo blast was the necessary insurance, and the game-winner.

Labanc now has three goals in his last five games, generating the type of offense that was expected from others on the team, but just hasn’t come.

“It’s a confidence booster, that’s for sure,” Labanc said of scoring in consecutive games. “It’s just momentum, and you ride with it. You just keep going, and whatever opportunities come by you, you’ve just got to make sure it goes in the net.”

DeBoer said: "For a team that's had trouble scoring, he's one guy that's consistently scored for us. The puck follows him around. … He's done a great job, and he's a hard guy to remove from the lineup just because of how he's playing and how he's contributing.”

At the end of a three-game California road trip, Carolina pushed hard to start the third down 4-2. Derek Ryan’s power play goal brought the ‘Canes back to within one, and the way the ice was tilted over those first four minutes, it looked like the Sharks might be in trouble.

Instead, they buckled down in the defensive zone despite missing defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is “day-to-day” with a lower body injury after leaving in the second period, according to DeBoer.

"They have a lot of talented guys on the team that can make plays,” said Paul Martin, who got the most fortuitous bounce of the night when his first period slap shot went in off of defenseman Brett Pesce's skate. “For us, it was just trying to find a way to win at that point, take care of our own zone, and Deller made some big key saves when we needed them."

Dell’s biggest stop came with about 20 seconds left, when he challenged Jeff Skinner on a rebound try – one of 11 shots for the Hurricanes forward – and saw the backhander hit him in the chest. He’s now 3-1 in his nascent NHL career.

“The last minute six-on-five is always a really, really long minute,” Dell said. “I think we played it pretty well.”

Carolina had plenty of zone time over the final two minutes with Ward pulled for an extra attacker. But this time, it was the Sharks’ opponent that never got that necessary bounce.

Instant Replay: Sharks make most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

Instant Replay: Sharks make most of opportunities in win over 'Canes

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – After a disappointing defeat less than 24 hours earlier, and with a four-game road trip on the horizon, the Sharks could have overlooked Carolina on Saturday night at SAP Center.

Although it wasn’t their cleanest game, and they managed just 20 shots on goal, the Sharks got past the Hurricanes, 4-3. San Jose’s modest two-game losing streak came to an end.

Twice the Sharks took a one-goal lead, and twice the Hurricanes responded. At 11:02 of the second period, Joakim Nordstrom’s shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway knotted the score at 2-2.

The Sharks tallied a pair of scores to take a 4-2 lead into the dressing room at the second intermission, though. Logan Couture redirected a Brent Burns wrist shot at 12:18, and less than two minutes later Kevin Labanc smacked in the rebound of a Dylan DeMelo shot off of Cam Ward’s pad at 14:10.

Carolina got back to within 4-3 in the third period, taking advantage of an ill-advised cross-checking minor on Brenden Dillon. Derek Ryan was left alone in front of the net, and slipped a shot through Aaron Dell’s five-hole at 3:42.

Carolina pulled Ward for the extra attacker with about two minutes to go, and Dell made a key save on a Jeff Skinner rebound with 20 seconds left to preserve the win.

San Jose beat Carolina for just the fifth time in the past 15 meetings (5-8-2). The Hurricanes won the only other matchup on Nov. 15, 1-0.

There was a flurry of goals early.

The Sharks opened the scoring just 12 seconds into the game, when Patrick Marleau finished off a two-on-one rush with Joe Thornton. Carolina responded shortly after that on Lee Stempniak’s power play goal at 1:59, but the Sharks reclaimed the lead when Paul Martin’s point shot nicked Brett Pesce’s skate and fluttered through Ward at 3:14.

The Sharks lost Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the second period. The defenseman left for a stretch in the middle frame, returned for a shift, but did not play at all after that.

Carolina went 1-1-1 on its three-game road trip through California.

The Sharks completed a stretch of eight home games out of 10, and begin a four-game road trip in Toronto on Tuesday.

Special teams

The Sharks went 0-for-1 on the power play, going up against the league’s best penalty kill.

Carolina finished 2-for-2. San Jose is just 23-for-32 on the PK in its last 12 games (71.8 percent).

In goal

Dell was making his fourth start of the season, getting both Carolina games while the other two were against the Islanders. He improved to 3-1 on the season with 30 saves.

Ward took the loss, allowing four goals on 20 shots goals. It was just his second loss to the Sharks in his career in eight decisions (6-2-0).

Lineup

David Schlemko missed his third straight game with a right ankle injury. Matt Nieto, a scratch for the previous five games, replaced Micheal Haley on the fourth line.

Burns’ three-game goal-scoring streak was halted.

Up next

The Sharks will visit Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Chicago on their upcoming roadie, playing four games in six nights, before returning home to host Calgary on Dec. 20.