Going into this off-season, the San Jose Sharks wanted to get some NHL experience behind bench boss Todd McLellan. They’ve passed those tests with flying colors as they added veteran coach (and Hall of Famer) Larry Robinson as an “associate” coach and long-time NHL blueliner (and seasoned assistant) Jim Johnson to the mix as an assistant. Johnson is the most recent addition, as the Sharks named him to the staff tonight.
(Jay Woodcroft is an assistant as well.)
Johnson most recently served on Dale Hunter’s coaching staff with the Washington Capitals. Here’s a write-up on his coaching career via the Sharks:
A 14-year NHL defenseman, Johnson, 49, most recently was an assistant coach on Dale Hunter’s staff with the Washington Capitals. He has also served as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010 and interim head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes in 1999-2000.
Prior to arriving in Washington in 2011, Johnson was coaching for Switzerland’s HC Lugano. While working with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, he also served as the head coach for the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals during the 2009-10 season and as development coach for the Lightning in 2008-09.
Johnson also spent three seasons (2000-02) as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Junior Team.
Some quite reasonably believe that the Sharks’ Stanley Cup window is closing rapidly, but adding some top-notch help for McLellan could help the team get the most out of a still-talented roster. Johnson should be a good addition in that regard.
Larry Robinson landing a new gig as associate coach in San Jose makes for another great turn in his post-playing career, one where he spent the bulk of in Montreal. The Canadiens too were interested in bringing Robinson aboard Michel Therrien’s staff but talks never got far.
Why? Apparently Mother Nature determined a return to Quebec wasn’t in the cards as Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette shares.
It was no secret that a number of NHL clubs had expressed interest in Robinson’s coaching talents. Complicating matters with the Canadiens was the fact that he was unable last month to come north for a face-to-face interview, tied down in Florida dealing with the onslaught of Hurricane Debby and the torrential rains that overflowed his swimming pool and swamped the 12-acre polo farm he co-owns, stabling and training polo horses.
As Stubbs notes, Robinson kept in touch with Habs GM Marc Bergevin but an interview never happened as Therrien wanted to bring J.J. Daigneault so badly, they hired him before even speaking to Robinson. Alas, romanticism only goes so far when it comes to getting business done.
Robinson landing his gig in San Jose, however, should turn out pretty good for him given the defensemen he’ll get to work with there in Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Brad Stuart among others.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Did you hear a rumor about Alexander Semin going to Pittsburgh? You might not want to pay attention to that one. (PensBlog)
Check out Erik Karlsson getting married this weekend. Not a bad couple weeks. Signs a monster contract, wins the Norris Trophy, and gets hitched. It’s good to be the… Senator. (Senators Extra)
Did Hurricane Debby prevent Larry Robinson from joining the Montreal Canadiens? (Montreal Gazette)
Looks like Roberto Luongo, I mean @strombone1, decided to see Celine Dion in Las Vegas last night. But hey, Joey Fatone from *NSync was there too! (@strombone1)
Some Ducks fans are unhappy with GM Bob Murray. You know what that means: Petition time! Looks like they’re taking the Kings Cup win a bit hard. (Anaheim Calling)
While the Devils and Kings didn’t face each other many times this season, just twice and those don’t mean much now, these two franchises have a lot of links tying them together.
Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider broke down all the different ties that bind Los Angeles and New Jersey and we find out if there was such a thing as “long term money on the board” there’d be a whole lot of cash to get for both teams.
Here are a few of the more interesting potential story lines to look out for.
—- Ilya Kovalchuk turned down the Kings to sign with the Devils during the “Summer of Kovalchuk” in 2010.
—- Devils assistant coach Larry Robinson was the Kings’ head coach for four years and played for the Kings for three seasons. In his four years as coach, he took the Kings to the playoffs once in 1998 getting swept by St. Louis in the first round.
—- Kings defenseman Matt Greene and Devils captain Zach Parise were roommates and teammates in college at the University of North Dakota. It’s like Tim Thomas and Martin St. Louis all over again, just not as cuddly.
—- Kings GM Dean Lombardi and Devils GM Lou Lamoriello are long time friends and confidants.
—- Willie Mitchell was originally a New Jersey Devil. Coincidentally, he first signed with Los Angeles the same summer Kovalchuk signed with New Jersey.
—- Peter Harrold and Alexei Ponikarovsky were both Kings just last season. They were clearly destined to be in the finals this season.
The most interesting one here is Kovalchuk’s place in the series. He’s been the focus of attention no matter what in the playoffs (15-year, $100 million contracts help that) but now he’s going against the team he spurned for the Stanley Cup. Hello intrigue!
If you’re a Canadiens fan and hoping to see former Habs defenseman and current Devils assistant coach Larry Robinson behind the bench next season, you might want be really disappointed.
According to the New York Post, Robinson was asked about an earlier report from an agent representing him saying he’d be interested in the Montreal job. Turns out sometimes an agent may not be a great source of information.
Devils assistant coach and 2000 Cup-winning head coach Larry Robinson vehemently ripped a report suggesting he is interested in joining the new Montreal regime, saying that comments attributed to an agent, whom he called a friend, were five years old and that there has been no such contact or interest.
Robinson won seven Stanley Cups as a player with the Canadiens and bringing him back as a coach would seem like a nostalgic piece of fun, but if Robinson doesn’t want in on the job you can’t really blame him. Montreal hasn’t won the Cup since 1993 and the pressure is as high as ever to get things turned around.
Without Robinson to kick around, the Canadiens’ list of candidates is still pretty long.