Larry Robinson is a former NHL defenseman who played 20 seasons in the league from 1973 to 1992. Robinson is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. He won six Stanley Cups in his NHL career, all with the Montreal Canadiens. He spent 17 of his 20 seasons with Montreal and his final three with the Los Angeles Kings. Standing at 6’4 225lbs, Robinson was known as a bruising, strong player, while also being extremely mobile. That combination of size, strength, and mobility has always been rare and highly sought after in the NHL.
Larry Robinson was selected 20th overall in the first round of the 1971 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. After spending a year and a half in the American Hockey League, he made his NHL debut on January 8th, 1973. Thus would begin one of the most legendary careers in NHL history.
Robinson won his first Stanley Cup in his rookie season in 1973, but did not play a huge role yet on the team. As the 1970s went on, Robinson would continue to improve, earning more playing time and becoming a stalwart on the Habs’ blueline.
He quickly became one of the best defensemen in the league. In 1976-77, he had his best NHL season. Robinson scored a career-high 85 points and finished the season with a remarkable plus/minus rating of +120. That is the second-highest single-season plus/minus rating in NHL history, only behind Bobby Orr’s +124 in 1970-71.
Robinson would never reach 85 points again, but he would continue to be a dominant two-way defenseman throughout the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. He had a resurgent year offensively in 1985-86, at 34 years old. He scored 82 points that season, finishing just three shy of his career-high. The Canadiens once again won the Stanley Cup, Robinson’s sixth and final Stanley Cup win as a player.
After the 1988-89 season, Robinson’s career with the Canadiens would come to an end after 17 seasons. He was 38 years old and a free agent. He signed with the Los Angeles Kings in 1989 and would play three seasons in L.A. Robinson was not nearly the player he was in his younger days, but he was still a valuable veteran and a great leader. After the 1991-92 season, he retired from the NHL after 20 seasons.
Robinson had a spectacular NHL career as one of the best two-way defensemen in NHL history. He was also known as a tremendous leader and mentor for younger players to look up to. After his playing career ended, Robinson went into coaching. He continues to work in the NHL to this day, as a Senior Consultant to Hockey Operations for the St. Louis Blues.
Records and Awards
Larry Robinson holds the NHL record for the highest career plus/minus rating in history at +722. He also is tied with Nicklas Lidstrom for most consecutive playoff seasons for a player with 20.
On top of those records, Robinson won multiple awards in his NHL career:
Stanley Cup six times, all with the Montreal Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986)
Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) once (1978)
Norris Trophy (League’s Best Defenseman) twice (1977, 1980)
Robinson’s ability to play shutdown defense, mix it up physically, and still contribute a ton offensively made Robinson one of the greatest of all time. He was also known for his tremendous leadership abilities, well beyond his playing career.
In 1995, Robinson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It was his first year of eligibility. His #19 has also been retired by the Montreal Canadiens. Robinson was also chosen as one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in 2017, during the 100th anniversary celebration of the NHL.