OWEN SOUND, ON. — Nicknamed “Big Bird,” standing 6-foot-4-inches and weighing in at 225 pounds, Larry Robinson was one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the game.
Born on June 2 1951, the 64 year-old, Winchester Ontario native has many achievements in his lifetime. Larry Robinson was drafted 20th overall in the 1971 entry draft by the Montreal Canadiens. He shared that growing up, “I was a Chicago Backhawks fan. I really liked their uniforms and Bobby Hull was my idol. The reason I didn’t like the Montreal Canadiens was because they won all the time.” It’s kind of funny to think that young boy went on to win six Stanley Cups with that team — four of which were consecutive.
After being drafted to Montreal, Robinson admitted, “When I first got drafted, I was a little disappointed. I had been talking to scouts from Los Angeles and a few other teams. When I got drafted by Montreal, I looked at the line up and thought, ‘Holy Mackerel, I’m never going to make it with them.’” He could not be more wrong. In fact, he went on to be a part of the greatest defense trio in team history known as “The Big Three.” The Big Three consisted of Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and Guy Lapointe. The trio played eight full seasons together and have a combined 20 Stanley Cups.
Throughout Larry’s 20 years as an NHL player, he played for two teams – 17 years with the Canadiens and three with the Kings. He also put up impressive numbers over this time. Over the 20-year span, he had 208 goals, 750 assists, 958 regular season points, as well as 144 playoff points. He had a career rating of +750, the NHL career record. This is not the only record he holds; he shares the title for most consecutive playoffs seasons, alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, with 20.
After he retired as a player following the 1991-1992 season, he was hired as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. Robinson won the Cup with them in 1995, later as head coach in 2000, and once again as an assistant in 2003. In between those championships, he spent time as head coach of the LA Kings. Currently, Robinson is currently the director of player development for the San Jose Sharks.
Some of his many accomplishments included: winning the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s most outstanding defenseman twice; being the Conn Smythe recipient as playoff MVP during the 1978 campaign; playing in 10 of the league’s All-Star games; being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame; having his jersey retired by the Canadiens; his name appearing on the Stanley Cup nine times; and perhaps most importantly, beating cancer.
When discussing the recent cancer scare with the Gazette, Robinson shared, “Living in Florida, because of the strength of the sun, you have your skin tested. I had a little spot on the inside of my left knee and they said, ‘it’s nothing, it looks like an old blood blister,’ so they didn’t do anything about it.” His wife however was very persistent that he should go have it checked out and it was a good thing he did because it turned out to be Melanoma. The doctor told him that he wanted to see him for further tests but Robinson said he would do so later as his brother was planning his annual cancer benefit golf tournament in honour of their brother, Brian, who they lost to cancer in 2005. The doctor warned him that he needed to get it dealt with now as the cancer could spread. Larry had surgery to have it removed and after a couple days, headed down to his brother’s golf tournament. Waiting for the test results to see whether or not he was in the clear was stressful but thankfully they brought good news. “Every three months now, I’ll go for a full body scan to make sure there are no new lumps and bumps or whatever,” Larry explained, “I’ll do that for two or three years, then after that it’s every six months.”
Larry and his wife recently returned to Montreal to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary and the couple could not be more relieved as being cancer-free was another things they could add to their list of things to celebrate.