Todd Robinson making most of his chance

Scoring has always come naturally to Todd Robinson. Through 384 pro games, he has already accumulated 499 points (138 goals, 361 assists).

“I wasn’t really aware of it,” Robinson confessed when notified of the approaching 500-point milestone. “It’s a nice accomplishment. I’m sure it’ll happen sometime in the next little bit. I guess when you start playing hockey, you want to score goals and get points.”

Despite his diminutive size – 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds – Robinson has managed to put up immense numbers throughout his professional career.

“Staying away from the big guys,” he explains as the secret to his scoring success. “I just have a knack for it, I guess. I’ve always been that kind of player. For me to be successful, I have to be playing with confidence and playing with good players.”

Despite a pile of points, a gaggle of goals and ample assists, Robinson has toiled primarily in the lower minor leagues.

Robinson culminated his five-year major junior career in 1999 as the Portland Winter Hawks’ all-time leading scorer with 300 points. He drove them to a Memorial Cup championship in 1998, one season after winning the Western Hockey League’s scoring title with 134 points (38-96—134).

Upon completion of his junior tenure, Robinson was poised for a pro contract. He signed with the Utah Grizzlies, then in the IHL, but couldn’t earn a spot on their veteran-laden roster. Thus, his initial pro season was spent in the West Coast Hockey League, where he placed fifth in the league with 101 points before garnering the WCHL Rookie of the Year award.

While playing the majority of the 2000-01 season with Muskegon of the United Hockey League, Robinson also got a two-game sniff with the Chicago Wolves, but it wasn’t sufficient to whet his appetite. Like the wily sniper he is on the ice, Robinson was waiting for the opportunity to move up to the AHL level.

Declining overtures from various AHL clubs, he spent the next three seasons (2001-04) in the UHL, leading the Fury to league titles in 2002 and 2004.

“They weren’t the right situations at the time or there was stuff going on in Muskegon that I had to deal with,” said Robinson, explaining his rationale in turning down opportunities to climb the minor-league hockey ladder.

He had a different answer on Nov. 12, 2004, when Griffins general manager Bob McNamara called on Robinson to bolster the Griffins’ 2004-05 lineup. Robinson didn’t hesitate.

“I think Danton Cole being the coach (made it an easy decision), since he had me in Muskegon.” Robinson said of the coach who guided Muskegon to its 2002 championship. “With the NHL being out, too, I think there was a lot of exposure to be had. It was just a good situation. I got to come in and got to play. That’s the main thing; it’s not good to get called up and just sit on the bench. It’s not helping you.”

He especially liked the prospects of being reunited with Cole.

“Danton wins,” Robinson said. “When he coached us in Muskegon, he brought in a system and everyone bought into it. That’s why we won the championship. We bought in this year as well, and that’s why we have been successful. The way we play defense, we’re always going to have a chance to win.”

After a slow start, Robinson amassed 12 points during a nine-game point streak, among the AHL’s longest this season. He was a significant factor as the Griffins achieved the best road start in franchise history, winning their first seven outings away from Van Andel Arena.

Not factoring into his streak, but a significant factor to the Griffins’ successful start nonetheless, is Robinson’s success in shootouts. He has converted all three of his attempts.

“I just go in and try to read the goalie,” Robinson explained. “I’ve done the same move every time. I just try to read what’s open. If it’s there, then take it. I try to make the goalie make the first move.”

Regardless of who makes the first move, you can be sure that Todd Robinson will capitalize on the opportunities presented to him.