Being able to learn from one of the all-time best defensemen in hockey has been a benefit for the San Jose Sharks.
Hall of Fame blue liner Larry Robinson joined the Sharks coaching staff as an associate coach in July of 2012, bringing the experience that comes with being a two-time Norris Trophy winner and six-time Stanley Cup champion as a player with the Montreal Canadiens.
“When you’re taking pointers from a guy who’s pretty much seen everything in the game, it’s not hard to know that he probably knows what he’s talking about — even for a guy like myself who’s played a lot,” Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart told the San Jose Mercury News back in April.
“You think you know everything, but you don’t.”
Under Robinson’s tutelage, the Sharks showed a noticeable improvement in their goals-against numbers from the 2011-12 season to the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
In 2011-12, the Sharks finished eighth in the league, averaging 2.5 goals against per game.
With Robinson on the staff, the Sharks buckled down, averaging 2.33 goals against per game. That placed them sixth overall in the NHL.
Combined through the first two games of the Western Conference quarter-fnal against the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks had a registered 37 blocked shots.
While Robinson – and his wealth of experience – deserves some of the credit for helping to improve the Sharks defensively, the players did their part, too.
“It’s a lot of work,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told reporters during that first-round sweep of the Canucks, as per Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province.
“A commitment level from the players and you can only defend so many different ways. The players have to make a decision collectively that they’re prepared to sacrifice to prevent goals.”