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Robinson Is Fired by the Devils

January 29, 2002|From Associated Press

No more Mr. Nice Guy, and the New Jersey Devils have only themselves to blame.

Larry Robinson was fired as the Devils' coach on Monday with the club struggling to make the playoffs less than a year after coming within a victory of winning consecutive Stanley Cups.

The easygoing Robinson was replaced by former Pittsburgh Penguin coach Kevin Constantine, a noted disciplinarian.

Constantine will make his debut tonight against the Islanders.

"This team needs a coach of Kevin's personality, structure, discipline and accountability," General Manager Lou Lamoriello said. "The players are underachieving. They know why and I'll leave it at that."

Perennially one of the NHL's strongest teams, the Devils (21-20-7-3) are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of a playoff position.

The Devils have been inconsistent all season.

Good games have been followed by bad games, and the players have shown little spark no matter how much Robinson has tried.

"Everybody says that I'm too soft to be a coach," Robinson said. "Well, if that means I have to change the person that I am, to coach a club, then maybe that's not what I want to do."

So, Lamoriello made the coaching change, the second major switch in the NHL in less than a week. Ken Hitchcock, who led the Dallas Stars to Stanley Cup finals in 1999 and 2000 (winning in 1999), was fired last week.

"I still think Larry's an excellent coach," Lamoriello said. "Larry did everything and anything he possibly could. They [players] weren't responding on a consistent basis."

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Detroit captain Steve Yzerman will miss up to two weeks after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Yzerman expects to play at least a couple of games for the Red Wings before playing in Canada's first game in the Salt Lake City Olympics on Feb. 15.

The Red Wings called up forward Sean Avery, who played 13 games earlier this season.

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Dallas forward Jere Lehtinen will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today, causing him to miss this weekend's All-Star game. Lehtinen will have loose cartilage removed in what is considered a minor operation. Lehtinen is expected to recover in time to play for Finland in the Olympics next month.

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Florida assigned center Byron Ritchie to Lowell of the American Hockey League.... Calgary recalled forward Jason Botterill from Saint John of the AHL and sent forward Oleg Saprykin to Saint John.... Phoenix reassigned goaltender Patrick DesRochers and center Jason Jaspers to Springfield of the AHL.

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