Larkin wants to wear the Red Wings' “C” … but not now
Dylan Larkin, right, wants to eventually wear the captain's "C" that currently belongs to Henrik Zetterberg. "It'd be pretty cool," he said.
Dylan Larkin wants to be captain of the Detroit Red Wings, someday. Just not right now.
Larkin, 22, who signed a 5-year, $30.5 million contract on Aug. 10, made a huge leap in all areas in 2017-18, his third in the NHL. And because of his talent, determination, drive and competitiveness, he's a good bet to succeed Henrik Zetterberg in wearing the “C.”
“Everybody loves to win; Dylan hates to lose. I think that’s an important intangible,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said during the teleconference when Larkin signed his contract. “He’s got a lot of passion, a lot of will, a lot of determination … I think he’s slowly becoming a young player with leadership qualities.”
And the fact that Zetterberg, 37, may have already played his last NHL game because of his back, there is a real chance that circumstances could give Larkin the opportunity to wear the “C” as early as this season.
Not so fast, he says.
Larkin knows he will have to accelerate his leadership role with the Wings if Zetterberg can’t play, but there will be no indication of it on his jersey.
"I'm going to say first, it's not wearing a letter," he told The Athletic. "Even last year, I was trying to grow as a leader on the team. I have to take a couple more steps."
Larkin took a few of those in 2017-18, his first full season as a center, playing well offensively and defensively. He improved on face-offs and led Detroit in scoring with 63 points (16 goals and 47 assists).
But the Waterford native does, ultimately, want to be the Red Wings' captain.
"It would be cool to see the winged wheel on your chest, then to see Steve Yzerman, [Nicklas] Lidstrom, [Henrik] Zetterberg; it's a small group of people who get to do that. It's an honor," Larkin said. "It's not something that's given, not something that just by where you're from and a couple seasons is going to get you. It's about the person and what you do for the team in big moments.
"I would be lying if I wasn't going to say it'd be pretty cool."
Zetterberg has been the captain since 2013, succeeding Lidstrom who inherited the “C” from Yzerman.
Zetterberg, who turns 38 on Oct. 9, will report to training camp on Sept. 14. But the question remains: Will he be able to play?
"He hasn't been able to train anywhere near close to where he's been able to train in past summers due to his back," Holland said. "So there is a real unknown right now with Henrik Zetterberg."
Larkin has played his entire career in Michigan. After Youth hockey, he played at the National Team Development Program, which was then based in Ann Arbor and now in Plymouth; the University of Michigan; with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League for a short time, and with the Red Wings.