Pictured right is New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky. He was terrible with the Minnesota Wild. Then he was traded to the New Jersey Devils, and wasn't terrible at all; in fact, he was a vital part of the blue line that helped the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final.
This isn't to say the man pictured with him, associate coach Larry Robinson, is a miracle worker. It just seems that way when he makes average defensemen play well beyond expectations; or when his enthusiastic demeanor and demands of accountability help turn good teams into great ones.
These are the assets the San Jose Sharks have acquired for the next two years in hiring Robinson — along with six Stanley Cups as a player and one more as a head coach.
From David Pollak of the Mercury News on Robinson, 61, being added to Coach Todd McLellan's staff:
A formal announcement will be made Monday with Robinson expected to be put in charge of not only the team's blue-liners, but also a penalty kill in need of a major overhaul.
He has served as a head coach with both Los Angeles and New Jersey, and spent the last three seasons as an assistant with the Devils. One report last week noted that Robinson told the Devils he wanted to spend more time with his grand-children, at least one of whom lives in California.
After the season, in which the Sharks were eliminated in the first round of the conference playoffs by the St. Louis Blues, McLellan was given a vote of confidence but GM Doug Wilson cautioned that changes to the bench could be coming.
Jay Woodcroft was in charge of that unit this past season, while assistant Matt Shaw was also on McLellan's staff. The club could add someone already on the payroll, such as development coach Mike Ricci, while former defenseman Bryan Marchment's name has also been linked to San Jose.
"That can come from internal, or external," McLellan said of the search. "There are coaches that have coached in the past that maybe aren't coaching now that want to get back into it. There are a number of different avenues that we can look at if we desire to bring that type of person in."
If this was a Monopoly board, the avenue they chose was Park Place. Robinson is as good as it gets as an assistant coach. It's another major loss for Devils Coach Peter DeBoer's staff — Adam Oates, who orchestrated the team's power play, left to coach the Washington Capitals.
It's a major gain for the Sharks, especially on special teams.