Monday, December 19, 2005
Robinson resigns as Devils coach
WEST ORANGE, N.J. -- Larry Robinson can't sleep, he's
stressed out, and he's got "pounding headaches" so severe that
sometimes he can't move his head.
Stress is a killer. I lost a dear brother last year and that changed my thoughts about life a lot. My parents are no longer around. I want to be able to enjoy my kids. ”
— Larry Robinson
For the Hall of Fame defenseman, it was time to end his second
go-round as coach of the New Jersey Devils.
Just five months since being introduced as the replacement for
Pat Burns, Robinson stepped down Monday, citing stress and health
concerns. Two days earlier, the Devils lost to Carolina to fall to
2-7 in their last nine games.
"Stress is a killer," he said. "I lost a dear brother last
year and that changed my thoughts about life a lot. My parents are
no longer around. I want to be able to enjoy my kids. I worked and
I played for 20 years so I could give everything I wasn't able to
have for myself to my children, and they suffered for my absence."
The 54-year-old Robinson choked up when describing how he
agonized over his decision.
"Even yesterday I didn't know what I wanted to do. I called my
wife in the morning ... I couldn't talk to her on the phone ... I
spoke to her and I had to hang up and collect my thoughts," he
said, holding back tears. "I spoke to my son and then I went and
sat with (goaltenders coach) Jacques (Caron) and he said, 'Listen,
your health is more important than anything else.' That's why I
think it's best."
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, who coached one NHL game
17 years ago, will lead the team Tuesday night when New Jersey
faces the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He said a new
coach would be brought in "as soon as possible."
"I'm going to go behind the bench on a temporary basis until I
can do my due diligence and see what the next step is," Lamoriello
said, adding that he would not make a hasty decision on a new coach
"just to make a decision."
Robinson missed two games earlier this month with flu and sinus
problems. He said Monday he continued to have what he called
"horrible headaches" and went recently to have medical tests
done, including a CT scan. He said he was told the symptoms were
"Now I've got grandkids that I haven't seen," he said. "I
looked at it the other day and just didn't like the picture. I
thought, 'I'm basically back to where I started.' "
Robinson told the Devils of his decision at a meeting before
practice Monday morning. They were stunned by the news.
"It wasn't what I anticipated when he started talking," center
John Madden said.
Several players said they had noticed a change in the demeanor
of Robinson, who has always been a quintessential players' coach
but who admitted Monday he had taken out his frustrations on them
more than usual.
Veterans Scott Gomez and Alexander Mogilny were benched Saturday
for most of the final two periods against Carolina.
"I felt I was being out of character," he said. "Not that I
haven't gotten upset with the guys before and screamed and yelled
at them. It just seemed that wasn't getting through."
"You look back and he was sick and he was tired and he didn't
look too good, but I never thought he was going to step down,"
forward Sergei Brylin said.
Robinson coached the Devils to the Stanley Cup championship in
2000 and to the Cup final in 2001 before being fired in 2002. His
first NHL coaching job was as an assistant with New Jersey in 1993.
He was on staff when the Devils won their first championship in
1995 and coached the Los Angeles Kings for four years.
Robinson's resignation is the second NHL coaching change this
season, following Eddie Olczyk's dismissal by the Pittsburgh
Penguins last week. Wayne Gretzky took an indefinite leave of
absence from the Phoenix Coyotes last weekend to tend to his ill
mother in Canada.
The Devils began this season under a cloud created by the
absence of forward Patrik Elias, the trade of longtime defenseman
Scott Niedermayer and the retirement of defenseman Scott Stevens.
New Jersey is 14-13-5 and fourth in the Atlantic Division.
Elias returned to practice for the first time Monday since
missing several months after contracting hepatitis A last spring.
In addition, 37-year-old defenseman Vladimir Malakhov retired and
was replaced by Dan McGillis, who was put on waivers but had not
yet reported to Albany of the AHL.
Now New Jersey must forge ahead under Lamoriello, whose only
experience coaching an NHL game came in the 1998 playoffs against
Boston when then-coach Jim Schoenfeld served a one-game suspension.
"You kind of wonder what's next," goaltender Martin Brodeur
said. "Lou's going to come in, and we don't know for how long.
We're going to take it day by day. You can't dwell on the
situation. We play so many games in such a short time, sometimes
you want to take a step back and evaluate what's going on. But you
just can't afford to."