As something of an addendum to all the Dylan Larkin contract talk:
1. 97.1 the Ticket’s Will Burtchfield spoke with Larkin and Ken Holland regarding Larkin’s leadership, which will likely earn the 22-year-old a “C” on his jersey sometime soon:
“You look at Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, they really led by example,” Holland said. “When it was time to say something they stood up and said what needed to be said, but for the most part they led by example and earned their respect of their teammates with the way they played the game, the way they practiced and their determination and passion for the game of hockey, for the sport and for their team. I think early in his career, Dylan shows a lot of those intangibles.”
Most of all, Holland said, Larkin hates to lose — even more than he loves to win. That’s something that comes from within, though Larkin said he’s also been shaped by the veterans around him.
“As the three years have gone by, I think I’ve learned from some of the best leaders in the game in Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Adblekader, Trevor Daley. These guys have groomed me into a position where I haven’t had to be anything I’m not. I just try to be myself and work hard and play the game that I love,” he said.
Truth be told, he can’t play it enough. Larkin represented the U.S. at the World Championships in June for the third straight year, runs his own hockey school in the offseason and is currently in Toronto training with a host of NHL players. If his obsession with the game runs deep, so does his pride in playing for the Red Wings. He’s a rink rat from Waterford, only now he’s making more than $6 million per year. He intends to earn every penny.
“I think, with this, there’s definitely pressure, but I think it comes from within. I want to earn this and make the team proud. I want this to be something that they look back on and say they made the right move to sign me for five years,” Larkin said. “There is a bit of pressure there, but it’s still the game that I love and I can’t wait to start up. Now I want to win, get the fans back and make them happy getting back in the playoffs.”
2. Sportsnet’s Luke Fox took note of Holland’s comments regarding the Wings’ rebuilding effort…
Holland used the word rebuild in discussing the critical re-signing of Larkin, and he’s wise to go long-term with his best young player, avoiding, say, the RFA awkwardness that struck Ottawa with Mark Stone.
“We all felt there’s more to give, there’s more to come. That’s why you do a short-term deal. I can’t pay off speculation, and a player doesn’t want to sign a long-term deal too early on and outperform that deal significantly,” Holland explained. “We’re going younger. We’re trying to rebuild it.”
When asked if other young players will get a chance to earn spots in camp, Holland said “We’re going to try and get more and more young players on the team.”
After enduring a contract dispute with Athanasiou last fall that dragged weeks into the season, Holland said there was urgency on both parties to get something settled this month.
“Players are coming into town,” Holland said on a conference call Friday. “Dylan wants to be in the locker room and be signed and be part of the group versus be a distraction.”
3. WXYZ’s Brad Galli filed two reports that aired on the 6 PM sports segment, discussing both Larkin’s re-signing and Henrik Zetterberg’s status…