Book Review: The Great Defender: My Hockey Odyssey
Wayne Gretzky named him to his All-Time All-Star team and he is the highest scoring defenseman to ever dawn the Montreal Canadiens jersey, yes Larry Robinson has had quite the career.
The Great Defender: My Hockey Odyssey with Kevin Shea takes readers through the life of the Hall of Fame defenseman from his days as a kid growing up on a small farm outside Ottawa. Robinsons recalls his upbringing through junior hockey, to his all-star career in the NHL, wearing the maple leafs for Team Canada, to life after the game.
Robinson was lucky enough to win the Stanley Cup six times as a player and three more times as a coach. He is among the league’s greatest defenders to ever lace them up, something that he has never quite been able to grasp. Something he reflects upon when he recalls the Canadiens 75th anniversary season where he was named to the Habs All-Time Dream Time.
“When I look on it now, I was there with Aurele Jolait and Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau and Doug Harvey and Jacques Plante. Those are frigging icons! I was thinking, ‘What’s this little farm boy doing up with all these guys?’ It was amazing.”
What is made very clear in the book is just how respected and down to earth Robinson was during his career. He never took anything for granted, he had a blue-collar work ethic (which he picked up growing up on the farm), and he was a natural leader. He wasn’t afraid to get his team pumped with a big speech or even a dance around the dressing room in nothing, but his jockstrap.
“(‘Flashdance: What a Feeling’ by Irene Cara) came on… To break the tension, I started dancing to the song with nothing on but my jockstrap. I went flying from one end of the room to the other, doing my best Jennifer Beals impression… it was a thing that I did just to loosen everybody up – and then we went out and won the game.”
The, now associate coach with the San Jose Sharks, after all has been said and done is a family-man at heart. He has been attached to his wife Jeanette since he was a teenager and he now takes pride and makes it an opportunity to spend time with his family, including grandchildren. Robinson has won many Cups and a Norris Trophy, but his family has been his biggest prize.
“Jeanette has been my rock. She Still is. We’ve been blessed with two wonderful children, Jeffrey and Rachelle. They may be the greatest gifts of all… they have blessed us with three wonderful grandchildren, whom we adore.”
Robinson had his number 19 raised to the rafters in 2007, he made the playoffs in each of his 20 seasons in the NHL, and holds the all-time record for plus minus with a plus-793 (a record that may never be beat). He was one of the greats and his book lets readers now just what it is like to grow up a fan-favourite for arguably the most historic franchise the NHL has ever known.
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Photo Courtesy of Amazon.
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