Two things: puck possession is the Wings’ friend, but they may still be a one-line team

MLive’s Ansar Khan filed an article discussing the ways in which the Red Wings can improve upon their frustrating 2019-2020 season by “owning the puck” this upcoming season…

The Detroit Red Wings for many years were predicated on puck possession. With players like Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom, they played keep-away with the puck on many nights, leading to much success.

The current Red Wings do not have nearly that kind of talent and haven’t for several seasons, leading to a painfully prolonged rebuild.

But as the 2021 Red Wings return from a historically bad season, they have many new faces and a renewed emphasis on puck possession.

“We’re valuing the puck,” Dylan Larkin, named captain on Wednesday, said. “You got to start with that, and the rest will take care of itself.

“This whole camp we’ve been focusing on breaking the puck out as a five-man unit, going up the ice together, moving the puck, moving our feet, not just throwing it away, not just rimming it around the boards and just getting it out of our zone. We’re trying to come back to it, talk, communicate, and then get out as five men and attack up the ice together so we can spend time in the offensive zone. There’s been a huge emphasis on that, and I like the way it’s going.”

And Khan continues; but the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, filing a subscriber-only set of “5 predictions” for the Red Wings, questions whether the Red Wings will find sufficient offense:

Continue reading Two things: puck possession is the Wings’ friend, but they may still be a one-line team

Kulfan: For Yzerman, Red Wings’ season is about getting bettter

Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman was asked questions regarding multiple topics during his Dylan Larkin-related press conference, and the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted that Yzerman had this to say about his expectations for his team for the upcoming season:

“As simple as I can put it, I’m just looking for improvement,” Yzerman said.

The Red Wings had the NHL’s worst record last season and struggled mightily all season. So Yzerman, during this long, pandemic-driven offseason, went to work acquiring or signing veteran free agents to short-term deals, to improve the roster and enable young players to continue maturing.

It’s the young players Yzerman will keep a specific eye on.

“As a team, we want to be better,” Yzerman said. “Certainly we’re expecting our younger players to be improved. They’re a year more mature and experienced and hopefully stronger and explosive and a little better conditioned. Again, we just to see improvement. We’re trying to progress and if we can be better in every area, I don’t know what our point total will be or where we’ll finish in the standings, but throughout the whole organization we’re looking at improvement.”

And that doesn’t necessary mean, Yzerman said, just the Wings’ NHL roster. But also prospects and draft picks just starting out in the Wings organization.

“What people see, the fans, are the Detroit Red Wings on the ice, and we want that group to be better,” Yzerman said. “But we’re hoping our kids in the minors are getting better, we’re hoping everyone gets better, as we inch closer and we become more competitive. Regardless of whether they’re in Detroit or Grand Rapids, or wherever they’re playing, I want see us be a little better and have more optimism we’re getting closer by the end of the season.”


HSJ on handshakes and hand sanitizer

The Free Press’s Helene St. James offers a great “evening line” from Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, who discussed his naming of Dylan Larkin as the Red Wings’ captain yesterday afternoon:

Larkin described how, after the deal was sealed, the new captain and former captain smiled through the masks they wore to help prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We were sitting there, just the two of us,” Yzerman said. “I really would have liked to take the masks off and have a conversation, but I am keeping this mask on because the last thing I want to do is come up with COVID, and you don’t have your mask on and you’re going to spend the first two weeks of your captaincy in quarantine due to contact tracing.

“We kept our masks on but one rule we did break, and I’m going to confess to, we did shake hands at the end of the conversation. I don’t know about Dylan, but I immediately went to the hand sanitizer afterwards, so I hope that the protocol police will accept that.” 


Burtchfield: Local hero makes good

97.1 the Ticket’s Will Burtchfield discusses Dylan Larkin’s being named the Red Wings captain as, well, what it is:

Larkin doesn’t need to change to change the Wings’ fortunes, because talent and leadership will change them in time. The team has leaned on Larkin for both, and Larkin continues to find more of both to give. He’s been Detroit’s best player for the past three seasons and its de facto captain for the past two. The ‘C’ on his jersey merely confirms what we already knew.

“In order to lead people, you have to have the respect of those that you’re leading,” said Jeff Blashill. “There’s no doubt Dylan has the respect of every person in that room, players, coaches, staff, because of who he is. Because of his work ethic, because of his competitiveness, how much he wants to win, how much he wants this organization to get back to the top, because of his care for others, how he treats people, his selflessness. He just has the ultimate respect of every guy in that room.”

It reads like a fairytale, the story of Larkin’s life. That’s probably what it was until his second season with the Wings, until his favorite team collapsed and Larkin was part of the rubble. It’s been cold, hard reality ever since, a $30 million payday notwithstanding. His reality doesn’t change with his captaincy, because his captaincy isn’t the conclusion to a story that’s just getting good.

“I never dreamt it to be like this,” Larkin said. “I just tried to be myself every day and had a great support system and great teammates who allowed me to do that. It continues. It doesn’t stop here. It doesn’t change necessarily who I am, just makes me more responsible and allows me to voice my opinion to the guys. It’s hard to put into words. This means so much to me.”


Update: MLive’s Ansar Khan weighs in with Steve Yzerman’s take:

“He’s a really good person. He’s a mature young man. He’s responsible. He cares. We feel with our team, the age he’s at (24), where we are as an organization, his maturity as a hockey player, he just has a lot of attributes that make him a natural leader and perfect fit for us as our captain.”

It is an exclusive club. Yzerman was the longest-serving captain in NHL history (22 seasons). Nicklas Lidstrom wore the C the next six seasons and Henrik Zetterberg for six more. The Red Wings had only alternate captains, of which Larkin was one, the past two seasons.

“I strongly believe he represents our organization extremely well,” Yzerman said.  “He’s extremely proud to be a part of the Red Wings organization and has a burning desire to be successful here.”

Darren Helm, Christian Djoos unavailable to Red Wings due to NHL COVID protocols

Not great news, Bob:

Darren Helm, Christian Djoos unavailable due to COVID protocols.— George Malik (@georgemalik) January 13, 2021

Per the NHL:

NEW YORK (Jan. 13, 2021) – The National Hockey League today released the list of Players who are unavailable to play or practice on January 13, 2021, in accordance with the League’s COVID Protocols.

Beginning today, and continuing for the balance of the season, the NHL will be sharing the names of Players who are “unavailable” to the Club (to practice, travel or play in games) due to COVID protocols. Such “COVID Protocol Related Absences” can be the result of a number of factors including, among others: (1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol.

The League will maintain a dedicated list, to be launched later this week on, which will be updated daily to reflect the Players on each Club that are unavailable to practice or play due to a COVID Protocol Related Absence – no additional detail will be provided either by the League or the Club, including the precise reason the Player is unavailable or how long he might be out.

Continue reading Darren Helm, Christian Djoos unavailable to Red Wings due to NHL COVID protocols

Bultman notes Yzerman’s remarks regarding scouting and the 2021 draft

Enlightening remarks here:

Thought there was some interesting stuff in Steve Yzerman’s answer about the challenges of scouting the 2021 NHL draft today, particularly at the end.

Here’s his answer in full:— Max Bultman (@m_bultman) January 13, 2021

WXYZ posts report on Larkin’s captaincy

This is very good–and concise–per WXYZ’s Justin Rose:

“I strongly believe he represents our organization extremely well.”

Steve Yzerman on Dylan Larkin.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

Thanks for helping us celebrate the newest #RedWings captain, @chevrolet! 👏— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

Your 2020-21 leadership group. ✨— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

Caputo wants Larkin, Mantha to take the reins

97.1 the Ticket’s Pat Caputo suggests that the Red Wings need to make some real progress under a mature and having-matured Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha:

It’s time for the Red Wings.

Not for championships. Not to make the playoffs.

But for respectability.

Dylan Larkin, recently named captain, is 24. Anthony Mantha, recently signed to four-year contract worth more than $22 million, is 26. They aren’t kids, but vets.
Todd Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek have taken enough lumps. It’s time for recent first-round draft picks Filip Zadina and Michael Rasmussen to display genuine progress.

The Red Wings should be much improved. General manager Steve Yzerman has been aggressive adding veteran players for reasonable length and term. Robby Fabbri, Vladislav Namestnikov, Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill, Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal and Sam Gagner, all Yzerman acquisitions, represent more viable options than those late in the Ken Holland regime.

Continued; we may have to wait a season or two more before the Wings are truly “respectable,” but progress would be good to see for sure.