Larry Robinson played Junior 'A' hockey with the Brockville Braves of the CJHL and Juniors with the Kitchener Rangers then turned professional, spending 1971 to 1973 with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs of the American Hockey League before making it to the National Hockey League with the Montreal Canadiens.
Nicknamed "Big Bird" in part for his size (6'4" and 225 pounds), Robinson was a big and strong defenceman yet highly mobile. He played 17 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens and another three seasons for the Los Angeles Kings, until his retirement after the 1992 season. He won the James Norris Memorial Trophy twice as the league's most outstanding defenceman and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the 1978 playoffs. Robinson was a dominant player whose talent and leadership helped lead the Canadiens to six Stanley Cups.
Robinson was a member of Team Canada in the 1976, 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments and was an international All-Star team selection in the 1981 IIHF World Championships. During his career, he played in ten of the league's All-Star games and ended his 20-year career having scored 208 goals, 750 assists and 958 regular-season points as well as 144 points in 227 playoff games, a remarkable achievement for a defenceman. He holds an impressive career rating of +730, the NHL career record, including an overwhelming +120 in 1976–77 (second only to Bobby Orr's record plus-124 in 1970–71, and with Orr, the only two players to have a plus-minus rating of +100 or greater for a season). He won the Stanley Cup six times with the Canadiens, in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, and 1986. Together with Nicklas Lidstrom, Robinson holds the NHL record for most consecutive playoff seasons with 20, 17 of them with the Canadiens.
Robinson has been honoured for his playing career. In 1995, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was ranked number 24 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. In 2000, he was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. On November 19, 2007, the Canadiens retired Robinson's No. 19 jersey before a loss against the Ottawa Senators. Larry Robinson's name appears on the Stanley Cup nine times, as a player/coach/scout.
Following his retirement, Robinson was hired as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils in 1993. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1995 with the Devils, he was hired as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He left the Los Angeles team at the end of the 1998–99 season and signed on as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils once again. Named interim head coach of the New Jersey Devils on March 23, 2000, Robinson guided his team to win the 2000 Stanley Cup. He recounted to journalist Scott Morrison:
He stayed on as head coach for the next year and again guided the Devils to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost against the Colorado Avalanche in seven games.
Robinson was fired during the 2001–02 season, but returned as an assistant coach just before the 2002–03 season to win his 9th Stanley Cup in 2003.
When Pat Burns suffered a recurrence of cancer, Robinson again assumed the mantle of head coach on July 14, 2005. This stint came to an end on December 19, 2005, when Robinson resigned, citing stress and other health problems.
Robinson returned to the Devils prior to the 2007–08 season as an assistant coach under Brent Sutter. Prior to the 2008–09 season, Robinson left from behind the Devils' bench to become a special assignment coach between the organization's prospects in Lowell, Mass., and the Devils.
Robinson's contract ended with the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2012. He indicated he was interested in becoming an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, however that post was filled with former Hab J.J. Daigneault soon after. Robinson then was appointed an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks on July 10, 2012. On May 23, 2014, the Sharks added director of player development to Robinson's role. At the end of his five-year contract with the Sharks, Robinson left the organization in 2017.
Robinson was raised on a Marvelville, Ontario farm and as a boy, he grew up with a love of horses. While living in the rural area of St-Lazare outside of Montreal, Robinson became a co-founder with former teammate Steve Shutt, Michael Sinclair-Smith and local veterinarian Dr. Gilbert Hallé of the Montreal Polo Club at Sainte-Marthe, Quebec.
While playing in Los Angeles, Robinson became involved in the sport of thoroughbred horse racing through a partnership with Kings owner Bruce McNall's Summa Stable. Among their racing successes, Down Again won the 1990 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita Park.