In the aftermath of their historic playoff collapse against the Los Angeles Kings (yeah, I'm getting tired of starting every story like this too), a lot is up in the air about the future of the San Jose Sharks. It's unclear whether Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will still be in teal, whether Antti Niemi will still be the starting goaltender and whether a different player will be anointed captain when the 2014-15 season rolls around. One thing that is now clear: associate coach Larry Robinson will still be around, having just signed a three-year contract extension that sees him assume an expanded role with the club according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, who was the first to break the news of San Jose hiring Robinson two summers ago.
David Pollak of the Mercury News clarifies that Robinson will remain the team's associate coach for one more season, although he may not be physically behind the bench for every game, particularly on the road, then transition into a role as the team's director of player development while based in his home in Florida. Since joining the Sharks' coaching staff in 2012, Robinson has overseen a drastic improvement in the team's penalty kill and the development of Marc-Edouard Vlasic into one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league, Jason Demers into a productive top-four option, Justin Braun into a two-way stud and Matt Irwin into a capable NHLer. It's hard to say exactly how much credit Robinson deserves for the improvement of those four defensemen over the past two seasons but those close to the team, including those players themselves, speak highly of the Hall Of Famer's mentorship and experience.
This coming season, Robinson will be expected to help Brent Burns transition back to the blueline (and perhaps become more effective in that role than he was previously) and possibly ease Mirco Mueller or Konrad Abeltshauser's entry into the NHL depending on how active the Sharks are in free agency and the trade market. Beyond that, hopefully he can have a positive impact on a Worcester pipeline that has run somewhat dry in recent years.