The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of the comments made by new Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin and his coach, Jeff Blashill, made today while speaking with the media today…
“It’s hard to put into words,” Larkin said in a Zoom session with media after Wednesday’s practice. “I understand the significance of this role. I’ve seen it, been around it, I’ve been a fan and been to games. I can’t be more honored. I try to be myself every day and I have a great support system. It doesn’t stop here. I don’t change who I am. It means so much to me.”
Centers Luke Glendening and Frans Nielsen will serve as alternate captains for the 2020-21 season.
Larkin met with general manager Steve Yzerman — obviously himself a legendary Wings captain — Tuesday and gladly accepted the role of captain.
“It was special,” said Larkin of the meeting. “I didn’t need a big announcement or anything like that. Steve asked me whether I was willing to take on the responsibility and I said ‘absolutely.’ He said he wasn’t big on giving guys advice, but said not to put too much pressure on myself and not change who you are because of your role on the team.”
Blashill said the hard conversations came during Larkin’s second season.
“Year 1, lots went right for him early,” Blashill said. “Year 2 was a hard year for him, his least productive year. Some of that was habits he had to change. Even in those moments, you could tell he was reflecting on it after the conversations. He didn’t always necessarily agree, but he understood where I was coming from was to help him.”
Blashill said many in the organization began to recognize Larkin as captain well before it become official.
“In order to lead people, you have to have respect of those you’re leading and there is zero doubt that Dylan has the respect of every person in that room — players, coaches, staff — because of his work ethic,” Blashill said. “He’s got an incredible inner drive, competitiveness, how much he wants to win, how much he wants this organization to get back to the top, his care for others, how he treats people.
Larkin joins a list that boasts Hockey Hall of Famers in Yzerman, Lidstrom, Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Red Kelly. Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay.
Larkin grew close to Lindsay, who died in 2019, crediting him with teaching him how to be a good Red Wing.
“You play as hard as you can on the ice,” Larkin said, “and you’re available to the fans and visiting kids and doing what it takes to be a good human being in the community.”
No player had a bigger role in Larkin’s development into the captaincy than Zetterberg. When Larkin grew frustrated last season, he turned to his former teammate.
“Henrik was the ultimate captain to me,” Larkin said. “He did everything the right way. He showed up every day. He kept his emotions in check. Whatever was going on in the locker room, he had his thumb all over it. He knew everything going on with the guys, with everything. He handled it like a captain should — he never really spoke out unless he absolutely had to. He pulled guys aside and had a mature conversation.
“The way he carried himself, all the guys respected him as great as I’ve seen (anyone) respected. Respect is earned, and you have to have time to build, but I hope one day people can respect me like they respected Henrik Zetterberg.”
During the nearly two years Yzerman has been GM, he and Larkin have bonded. The conversation they had Tuesday wasn’t long, but it was memorable for Larkin.
“Steve said he wasn’t big on advice, but he did say to not put too much pressure on myself, to not change who you are just because of your role on the team,” Larkin said. “He said continue being yourself, it got you here. The guys respect you. Just hearing that was great. It meant a lot. He’s one of the best to ever wear a ‘C’ on his jersey. I feel very comfortable with our relationship and how he feels about me as a player and person. I’m very honored that he looks on me as a person who could wear the ‘C’ for the Detroit Red Wings.”