20 years ago today, heading into the final stretch of the season, the New Jersey Devils had a new head coach at morning skate.
The Devils were set to take on the New York Islanders that night, and instead of Robbie Ftorek at the helm, it was Ftorek's assistant, Larry Robinson as the man in charge. Despite the Devils sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference at the time, and third in the National Hockey League, the Devils had been on a tough stretch having lost 12 of their last 17 games. On March 24, 2000 Larry Robinson was behind the bench as the head coach for the first time.
The Devils had just eight games left in their regular season and Robinson was a familiar face, hired the previous May as an assistant on Ftorek's staff.
It was a role Robinson wasn't thinking about when he re-joined the club as an assistant.
''Larry reminded me that when he was hired, he had no intention to be the head coach," then-GM Lou Lamoriello said at the time, "but I told him he was the best person to lead the team."
And that proved to be more than true.
The Devils played the Islanders that net and won, 8-2 and would go on to win four of their final eight games. The coaching changed sparked something special in that 2000 team who went on to win the franchise's second Stanley Cup, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games for the ultimate hockey prize.