2. Larry Robinson – 2002
Larry Robinson’s two terms as New Jersey Devils head coach tend to merge into one in a lot of Devils fans’ heads. He was a coach that didn’t look forward to the pressure, but he was a mind that couldn’t be touched by NHL lure. His name is on the Stanley Cup 10 times. He’s done it as a player and a coach. He’s done it as an assistant coach, and he was the head coach of the 2000 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. Robinson did it all.
Then, he brought the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final again. However, this time he lost to the Colorado Avalanche. He wouldn’t even get a chance for redemption because Lou Lamoriello fired him during the 2001-02 season. It seemed Lamoriello wanted more of a disciplinarian behind the bench. That’s why he replaced Robinson with Kevin Constantine, someone who is known to push his players.
“Structure, discipline, and accountability” were three worked Lou uttered when talking about what he thought this team needed at the time. At the time of the firing, the Devils were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They finished white-hot, winning eight of their last ten games of the season. They ended as the sixth seed and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Devils then fired Constantine and replaced him with Pat Burns. That was a great decision by Lou, who was given his third Stanley Cup in 2003. Burns would end up fighting two different types of cancer which forced him to retire. He unfortunately died during his third bout with cancer in 2010.
Robinson was a very surprising firing, but it was even more surprising when he returned to be the assistant that same season. Yeah, he got fired and then rehired to work under his successor. Then, three years later, he was back as head coach. He eventually stepped down to focus on his health, but Robinson is someone who always came back to the arms of the Devils.