The Montreal Canadiens have entered the quietest time on the calendar. While there is little to look forward to in the month of August, we decided to take a look back at some of the greatest players in franchise history. We continue our site countdown of the five best defensemen in Canadiens history with our second ranked ranked D-Man, Larry Robinson.
The Montreal Canadiens drafted Larry Robinson in the second round of the 1971 NHL Amateur draft, the same year they selected Guy Lafleur first overall. Robinson, known for his big stature and excellent mobility, spent a couple seasons in the AHL before making his debut in the 1972-73 season, playing in 36 games and winning his first Stanley Cup.
But things didn’t take off right away for Robinson, as in his first full season with the Canadiens, he amassed 26 points in 78 games. That’s not poor production, but it was far from what Robinson was fully capable of. This was proven when, in the next season, he amassed 61 points and begun to show just what he was capable of.
And after a step back in 75-76, Robinson exploded in the 1976-77 season, registering 85 points, a career-high, and taking home his first of two Norris Trophies on route to his third Stanley Cup. At this point, Robinson had cemented himself as one of the league’s best defenders and a staple on the Canadiens blueline alongside Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard.
Known as the Big Bird for his size, Robinson used his blend of size and mobility to his advantage to impose himself on the opponents. He was a dynamic two-way defenseman, capable of creating offense for his team and stifling the opponents. That’s why he’s far and away the NHL’s all-time leader in plus/minus at 722.
In the 1978 postseason, Robinson led all players in scoring and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy, and in the 1979-1980 season, he won his second career Norris Trophy. In total, Robinson would finish top five in Norris Trophy voting eight times, along with six all-star game appearances and six Stanley Cup victories.
After Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe left the Canadiens, Robinson continued to anchor the Canadiens blueline until the 1988-89 season. In 1986, after a few down years, Robinson returned to his vintage self, tying a career-high in goals with 19 and scoring 82 points. This resurgence continued into the playoffs, where he helped the Canadiens win their first Stanley Cup since 1979.
When Robinson left the Canadiens, he had played in 1,202 games and registered 958 points. He played three more seasons with the Los Angeles Kings before retiring as one of the game’s best defensemen of all time.
Robinson is still the franchise leader in goals, points, and games played amongst defensemen, records he holds for both the regular season and the playoffs. Of course, records aren’t the be-all and end-all, as we will see when we talk about our top-ranked defenseman tomorrow. On almost every other team, Larry Robinson would be the franchise’s greatest defenseman and an argument could certainly be made for him in Montreal. If Larry Robinson is your second-best defenseman, you’ve done well as an organization.