San Jose Sharks Get Much-Needed Experience in New Associate Coach Larry Robinson

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIJuly 9, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26: Marek Zidlicky #2 of the New Jersey Devils skates in warmups under watch of assistant coach Larry Robinson prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Among the many San Jose Sharks' offseason priorities, one seemed to be imperative that it be completed before the 2012-13 NHL season gets underway.

Experience behind the bench was a clear weakness of the team last season—from a consistently awful penalty kill to superstars simply not showing up when needed.  

The franchise took a step in the right direction on Sunday by hiring former New Jersey Devils head coach and former NHL defencemen Larry Robinson to be their associate coach next season.

Robinson led the Devils to a Stanley Cup win in 2000 as head coach, as well as a finals appearance one year later.

In total, he has nine Stanley cup victories as a player, head coach, assistant coach and consultant combined, as well as a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Robinson has been to the top, has the experience the team lacks and he understands what it takes to get the Sharks to where they need to be next season.

Above all, Robinson will bring a keen understanding of defense—something the Sharks have seemed to lack over the past few seasons and a major reason as to why the franchise has yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

Currently, San Jose has very offensive-minded defencemen, with Brent Burns and Dan Boyle serving as the resident shots from the blue line.  

The Sharks made that move a couple years ago when they wanted to get more offensive after losing Rob Blake to retirement.  They acquired Burns this past offseason in hopes of beating teams with a relentless and well-rounded scoring punch.  However, the team lacked both offense and defense when it mattered most in 2011-12.

Robinson is here to change that with his approach that will be solely defensive-minded.

However, the topic of coach Todd McLellan's job status becomes a discussion when a hire of this capacity occurs. McLellan certainly does not feel that way (via Mercury News).

"I'm very confident in the job that I do and that our staff brings to the organization," McLellan said. "I think the players and management respect that. I was given every opportunity to be involved in the selection process. It was an organizational decision that I fully support. As a young coach in the league, I'm looking at ways to get better and I think that Larry is a great tool for our organization but also for Todd McLellan. It would be absolutely ridiculous if we had [someone like] Jacques Lemaire or Scotty Bowman and we weren't tapping these resources." 

It is unknown how big of a role Robinson will play behind the bench this coming season, but he did sign a two-year contract with the team and has known GM Doug Wilson since they were teammates in 1984.

Obviously, he was brought to San Jose to bring more structure to this team, and it starts with defense.

Expect the Sharks to start the 2012-13 season with a brand new approach to the side of the puck that has been the franchise's consistent weakness.

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