Getty ImagesIn his four seasons as head coach of the San Jose Sharks, Todd McLellan has taken the team to two Western Conference finals sandwiched between a pair of first-round exits. Core players such as Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle aren't getting any younger, so as each season in San Jose has ended without a Stanley Cup, the pressure on McLellan has grown.
After news broke that Larry Robinson would be leaving his job with the New Jersey Devils for an associate coach role with the Sharks, the murmurs started up about GM Doug Wilson having McLellan's potential replacement standing right next to him behind the bench. On Monday, the Hall of Fame defenseman was quick to point out that he has no plans to return to a head-coaching role.
"That was the first thing that I said when I come into the room, 'I do not want to be a head coach. I'm not here to take Todd's job. I'm here to help in any way I can,'" said Robinson on a conference call.
"I wouldn't want to be a head coach knowing there was somebody with a gun waiting behind me to shoot me whenever something went wrong. We will work out things when they're not going right, but you've got the best head coach here in the best position possible and I don't foresee any problems at all."
Robinson joins Adam Oates -- who was hired as head coach of the Washington Capitals -- as the second New Jersey Devils assistant to leave this summer. Robinson said Oates' decision to leave didn't play a role in his choice to go to San Jose and that he was set to continue working with the Devils as a consultant if no offers came up.
The Montreal Canadiens showed interest in the 61-year-old, but Hurricane Debby prevented Robinson from traveling to Montreal to talk with GM Marc Bergevin. They moved on and hired J.J. Daigneault.
Retirement was also a possibility, but this past season kept Robinson's appetite whet.
"Having gone so far in the playoffs last year I'd certainly like to do it again," Robinson said.
Living on the East Coast, with his grandchildren being in Redondo Beach, Calif., made it tough on Robinson's wife, he said. He'd spend his time at the rink while she'd be alone at home as their family resided on the West Coast. Getting the call from Wilson about the opportunity made their desire of moving closer to their grandkids easier.
Robinson joins a Sharks team that's been stuck in "win now" mode for some time. They're constantly talked up as Cup contenders, but falling short of that goal every year has made postseason flameouts now the expectation.
Having watched their Pacific Division rivals the Los Angeles Kings hoist the Cup in June, there's the urge by the Sharks -- and all teams, for that matter -- to take bits of what Darryl Sutter helped create and put it to use within their own team, but as McLellan mentioned, being a copycat doesn't always work.
"If you're chasing trends, your personalities may not match that, your ideals, your identity may not match that," said McLellan. "If you're chasing trends you have a tendency to be a year behind and often chasing a championship.
"More importantly for us, we have to redefine what our identity is as an organization is as a team, look at the tools that are available to us, via players and coaching staff now, and try and get the best that we can get out of our group, and maybe that's a trend. You can only do that by winning games and that will be our goal this year."
"We're willing to do whatever it takes," said Robinson. "The bottom line is you gotta win."
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