Thursday, July 14, 2005
Updated: July 18, 7:45 PM ET
Burns has recurrence of cancer
NEWARK, N.J. -- Larry Robinson has already experienced the
highs and lows as coach of the New Jersey Devils. That made him an
easy, short-notice choice to replace the ailing Pat Burns.
Robinson, who led the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup title
in 2000 but was fired less than two years later, returned Thursday
as coach of the team.
Robinson replaces Burns, who has been diagnosed with cancer for
the second time in a little more than a year.
Burns, a three-time NHL Coach of the Year, had surgery earlier
this month and was expected to undergo chemotherapy, as well.
Under Burns, the Devils reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2003,
winning in seven games against Anaheim. The following year, they were
eliminated in the conference quarterfinals in five games by
Since August 2002, Robinson served as a special assignment coach
with the Devils and worked with players at the franchise's minor
league affiliate in Albany.
Robinson said his familiarity with the Devils and general
manager Lou Lamoriello made the decision to return to head coaching
an easy one.
"New Jersey gave me my start. I had a lot of success with New
Jersey, I know the organization, and I have a lot of confidence in
Lou, and that's why this was the right combination," he said.
Lamoriello fired Robinson in early 2002, a decision he called
Thursday "one of the tougher decisions I've ever had to make."
Later that season, Robinson returned to the team after assistant
John Cunniff died of cancer.
"Lou and I have spoken since that time and we both know that's
part of hockey," Robinson said. "It's his job to put forth a
winning combination and it's my job to win, and at that point we
Robinson, a Hall of Fame defenseman who also took the Devils to
the Cup finals in 2001, got his first NHL coaching job as an
assistant with the Devils in 1993, and he was on staff when the
Devils won their first championship in 1995. Later that year, he
was hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, where he spent
Robinson holds a career coaching record of 195-210-64, including
73-49-19 with the Devils.
"As much as you want to stay within the framework of your
organization, you have to have somebody who can get the job done,"
Lamoriello said. "With our young players and our system in place,
I couldn't think of anyone better as a teacher and a leader."
The 53-year-old Burns had surgery and chemotherapy for colon
cancer following the 2003-04 season. His treatment would have
prevented him from coaching in 2004-05, but a lockout forced the
cancellation of the season.