There are a few things I don’t enjoy reading, let alone writing. One is the HOT TAKE, that ubiquitous frothy-mouthed screed about one subject or another that’s designed to get cheap clicks and make the author look stupid in the near future. The other is the What If?, the kind of article that supposes that if one isolated event had taken place (while all other events remained constant, I guess), the entire history of a team would have been immediately altered as if by Uatu the Watcher or some other omnipotent celestial being. What If?s are fun to craft but tough to back up thanks to factors outside observers couldn’t possibly foresee.
With those two things in mind, I want to make something very clear: Larry Robinson is available and the Islanders would be dopes to not hire him.
What appeared as a single tweet yesterday was confirmed by the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan, who reported that the coach and Hall of Fame defensemen would be leaving the San Jose Sharks, with whom he had spent the last five seasons, on July 1.
There are a few reasons behind the decision for Robinson, who left the Sharks bench two years ago to alleviate his travel time. His home and family are in Florida, which is sorta far from Northern California. He would prefer to be a part-time consultant rather than a full time assistant coach. He would like to focus on improving a team’s defense corps.
Basically, at 65 (66 in a few days) and with all of the accolades an athlete could ever want, Robinson wants a sweet gig around the game he’s played his entire life.
“We’re looking for something that’s going to make him comfortable,” [agent Donnie] Cape said. “He doesn’t want to go behind the bench, but we will listen to what anybody has to say.”
So what’s “comfortable” mean?
Cape said the perfect role for Robinson at this point in his life would be to work with players at training camp, keep tabs on the development of young defencemen during the season and then spend time with players when necessary if they are having specific problems. Cape expects his phone to start ringing with calls from NHL general managers interested in Robinson’s services, and why wouldn’t they be?
Robinson’s resume shouldn’t need a rehashing. He’s won two Norris Trophies, six Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe and played in 10 All Star Games over a 20-year career. As a coach, he led the Devils to the 2000 Cup and another final the year after. With the Sharks - under the dual title of associate coach and director of player development - Robinson helped Brent Burns transition back to being a full-time defenseman, where he’s been a finalist for the Norris in two of the last three seasons. Robinson was also a confidant to former Sharks coach Todd McLellan and recommended Pete deBoer as McLellan’s successor after working with him in New Jersey.
Here’s where the Islanders come in. Three of their top six defensemen - Nick Leddy, Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic - are all 26, with Thomas Hickey at 28. That’s young, right? Maybe not, but it’s not old. Given that they “helped” the Islanders finish 28th in the league in power play percentage last season, they could use some help.
Even if those guys aren’t young, the Islanders still have 22-year-old Ryan Pulock - who should be a full time NHLer next season - along with early-20’s extras from last season Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech. Bridgeport will add prospects Mitchell Vande Sompel, Doyle Somerby and Parker Wotherspoon next season to a defense featuring AHL All Star Devon Toews who enjoyed a breakout 2016-17.
The point is, the Islanders have a lot of defensemen that could use the advice of LARRY GODDAMN ROBINSON (like just about everyone else). Hell, even old warhorses like Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg probably want to pick his brain.
Brooklyn isn’t in Florida but it’s a helluva lot closer than San Jose.
Doug Weight has already added former teammate Luke Richardson to his staff, and is expected to add Kelly Buchburger from the Oilers and the recently retired Scott Gomez at some point. Bob Corkum is already out and Greg Cronin - who’s deficiencies my colleague David Shear went over in great detail - could also not return. If Weight’s objective is delegate to people in which he is, “100 percent [confident] in their work ethic, their professionalism, their preparation,” then you can’t get better than Big Bird.
There’s no salary cap on coaches and consultants. Thirty other teams - including those closer to his home - are going to try to outbid the Islanders for Robinson’s services. They shouldn’t let that happen. He would have the consultant job he wants with the personnel that needs his particular expertise in a place that’s just a two hour flight away when necessary.
This concludes this unscheduled HOT TAKE. Please enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.
And yes, I know the expansion draft is coming and everyone but Leddy might gone but let’s not make this too complicated. Just hire the guy.