Captain Larkin

While I was translating Swedish, this happened:

Competitive. Driven. Dedicated.

Our captain.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

The journey.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

Earlier this month, I asked Dylan Larkin what his personal and team goals are for the season.

“I want to be a great player in this league. I want our team to be a great team that’s respected and back in contention for the Stanley Cup,” @Dylanlarkin39 said— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 13, 2021

The #RedWings today announced that center Dylan Larkin has been named the team’s captain, becoming the 37th captain in franchise history and the first Michigander and native metro Detroiter.

More »— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 13, 2021

Here’s HSJ on the announcement:

Larkin, 24, was the clear-cut choice. Since making the Wings out of training camp in 2015, a year after he was selected at 15th in the 2014 draft, Larkin has shown the signs of a captain. He has tremendous inner drive, pushes himself hard on and off the ice, and takes pride in being a Red Wing, all the more so for having grown in Waterford.

The plan had been to name Larkin captain before the 2019-20 season, but that was under former general manager Ken Holland. When Yzerman took over in April 2019, he wanted to get to know the players better before making a decision.

Yzerman and Larkin bonded during the 2019-20 season.

“I’ve enjoyed my conversations with him and our discussions about hockey and our team throughout the season,” Yzerman said last May. “I am very impressed with him. I think being a member of the Wings and improving this team is very important for Dylan, and he takes it seriously. He’s an excellent player for us, he’s a very important player.”

Larkin has worn an ‘A’ since 2018. At the time, management wanted to give Larkin a year to grow into the role, especially considering the Wings were in for tough times because of their rebuild. Before last season, the Wings made Luke Glendening an alternate captain, adding him to a group that also included Justin Abdelkader (no longer with the team) and Frans Nielsen.

Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan:

“My conversations with Steve since he’s come back to the Red Wings have always been about being a good teammate, being a good professional,” Larkin said last weekend. “Someone that’s proud of being a Red Wing, proud of coming to the rink every day, doing it right, doing it right on the ice, being in the gym, working hard.

“So, for me, just buying into that, it’s not something that’s hard to do, it’s something that past leaders I’ve been around in this locker room have done. I’ve tried to bring that every day.”

Glendening, Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader, who was bought out in October, were the team’s other alternate captains in 2019-20.

Larkin said there are many leaders in the room.

“Part of being an NHL player is you’ve been a leader at some point in your career and I see that from the new guys, like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha and Fil Hronek,” Larkin said.

“The word ‘culture’ gets thrown around a lot, but there is such a deep culture here where you show up to the rink every day, you do the right things, and you show up and play. You’re very proud to put that jersey on.”

And the Free Press’s Ryan Ford examined the last half-a-dozen Wings captains:

2012-2018 Henrik Zetterberg:

The prelude: Again, a lengthy apprenticeship, as Zetterberg was drafted in the seventh round (No. 210 overall) in 1999, played in Sweden until he joined the Wings at 22 in 2002-03. That year, he scored 22 goals in 79 games, made the All-Rookie team and finished, yep, second in Calder voting (behind St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman). Over the first nine seasons of his career, he scored 252 goals, had 372 assists in 668 games and won the Conn Smythe during the Wings’ 2008 Cup run. Again, not a terribly difficult choice for head coach Mike Babcock and general manager Ken Holland, even if it did have to wait until a 113-day lockout was settled, pushing back the start of the season to Jan. 19, 2013.

As captain: This time, the Wings didn’t wait until opening night; they made it official at a Jan. 15 news conference, four days before the season opener in St. Louis. Wings past and present, from Yzerman to Pavel Datsyuk, chimed in about how Zetterberg was the perfect choice. Babcock, in his own way, was clear on what he appreciated about the 32-year-old: “He doesn’t mind getting mad at me one bit,” Babcock said. “He’s just not shy about what he thinks. We’ve had a relationship like that, I think, for a long time.”

On the ice, meanwhile, the shortened schedule limited Zetterberg to 11 goals and 37 assists in 46 games (though he received votes for all the major awards). Overall, in six seasons as captain, Zetterberg had 85 goals and 251 assists in 414 games. Perhaps most impressively, he played in all 82 games in each of his final three seasons despite suffering from chronic back issues that became a serious problem at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. His linemate in 2015-16, the first of those 82-game seasons? A rookie out of Waterford and the University of Michigan — Dylan Larkin.

Conversation with Dylan Larkin last year about who he can be / wants to be in the NHL: this was a few months after his relationship with Steve Yzerman began— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 13, 2021

Steve Yzerman laid out in December what responsibilities a captain has.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 13, 2021

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.