Red Wings rookie Larkin earns All-Star nod

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Taylor — Dylan Larkin is an NHL All-Star, the first rookie since Steve Yzerman 31 years ago to make it for the Red Wings.

A legend builds?

Could be. But while Larkin clearly was a bit taken aback by the news, he once again displayed one of his paramount traits: poise.

And his coach, Jeff Blashill, said while it is a huge honor, the 19-year-old still has plenty of room for improving his game.

“I still can’t really believe it, but it’s a great honor and to be able to represent Detroit at an NHL event,” said Larkin, who huddled with Blashill briefly before talking to the media after practice at the Taylor Sportsplex.

“It’s going to be awesome.”

His ability to balance the early accomplishments in his career with respect for the game, his teammates and the reality of how much work, over the years, goes into building a career is already noted by observers around the NHL.

And Larkin had his head on straight, again, in his first public statements about the new, enormous accomplishment.

He already has said he was surprised to make the club out of camp, in October, and by the extent of his success to date. An All-Star? Huge, of course, but also just another in a series of big developments, before his 20th birthday.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said, with his characteristic soft voice and evenly-gauged cadence. “But it’s just another event, just another thing that’s happened.

“The thing about the All-Star Game is it’s based on the play in the past, so it’s cool that I still want more for myself and more for the team this season.

“I just think it’s another thing. I just happens. It’s not an everyday thing. It’s a great honor, but I’m just getting ready for the game tomorrow,” he said, of the Wings game against the Sharks.

“It’s going to be a fun time in California.”

With Tyler Toffoli of the Kings, Larkin led the NHL going into play Wednesday with a plus-22.

He was first among rookies with 14 goals.

Beyond the statistics, however, what is drawing acclaim are his pyrotechnics — the shot-out-of-cannon speed, the fine hands and the craftiness that was on display on the Red Wings most recent goal, when he faked the Vezina Trophy contender Cory Schneider to the ice, flopping flat on his belly, and scored on a breakaway in the 1-0 defeat Monday of the Devils.

Perhaps more importantly, he has provided the Red Wings with significant offensive punch as Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk age and as the franchise continues to rebuild on the fly.

“I’m happy for Dylan,” Blashill said. “He’s obviously had a real good start.

“He’s certainly helped us win lots of games, so far. But so has the rest of the guys.

“I just think it’s important with him that he’s got a real good skill set and he’s a real good player, but he needs to get better.

“If he wants to be a guy who is ultimately and elite winner in this league and an elite player who can carry a team, he’s got to continue to learn and get better and have a great approach, the same way he has so far, and just continue on that,” the coach said.

“It just takes time.

“I’ve been real happy with his eagerness to continue to learn and get better, and that’s going to be an important factor for his continued success.”

When he first learned of his achievement from Petr Mrazek, who walked into the dressing room Wednesday at the Taylor Sportsplex with a big congratulations for his teammate, Larkin said, “It was pretty crazy.”

He was not thinking about the selection process, he said, or being an All-Star.

“I don’t think many guys do think about it. You get caught up in the season and so many games, it’s kind of tough to think about stuff like that.”

He already has begun to think about when what he might do during the All-Star break, Larkin said, when many players are not-so-secretly pining for a few days relaxing in warm weather, someplace, and healing some of the bruises and other trauma that are always part of the long NHL season.

But going to Nashville is going to be exciting, he said.

“I guess I won’t have a lot of time off,” he said of the actual game, given the format. “There’ll be a lot of skating and it will be pretty cool.

“We play the other Eastern Conference division, so it will be (Alex) Ovechkin and (Sidney) Crosby and all those guys I grew up watching in the All-Star Game.

“It’s going to be fun, and hopefully the fans enjoy it.”

No other Wings were selected.

While it does not help brush up their resumes — or the Hockey Hall of Fame prospects of players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk — the fact of the matter is, especially with the new format, it is good for the team’s season.

“I think it’s probably a good format for young legs,” Blashill said. “So, I’m glad our youngest of our young legs gets to go there, and the rest of the guys get a little bit of a break.”

gregg.krupa@detroitnews.com

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ALL-STAR ROSTERS

Here are the rosters for NHL All-Star Game, which will be held Jan. 31 in Nashville. Under a new format, the game has been divided into three 20-minute games, featuring 3-on-3 play. The Central Division stars will play the Pacific Division, and the Atlantic Division will play the Metropolitan. The two winners will meet in the final, with the winning team splitting $1 million.

Atlantic Division

F Patrice Bergeron, Boston

F Jaromir Jagr, Florida

F Leo Komarov, Toronto

F Dylan Larkin, Detroit

F Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo

F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay

D Aaron Ekblad, Florida

D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa

D P.K. Subban, Montreal

G Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay

G Roberto Luongo, Florida

Metropolitan Division

F Nicklas Backstrom, Washington

F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia

F Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh

F Alex Ovechkin, Washington

F Brandon Saad, Columbus

F John Tavares, New York (I)

D Justin Faulk, Carolina

D Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

D Ryan McDonagh, New York (R)

G Braden Holtby, Washington

G Cory Schneider, New Jersey

Central Division

F Jamie Benn, Dallas

F Matt Duchene, Colorado

F Patrick Kane, Chicago

F Tyler Seguin, Dallas

F Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis

F Jonathan Toews, Chicago

D Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg

D Roman Josi, Nashville

D Shea Weber, Nashville

G Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota

G Pekka Rinne, Nashville

Pacific Division

F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary

F Taylor Hall, Edmonton

F Joe Pavelski, San Jose

F Corey Perry, Anaheim

F John Scott, Arizona

F Daniel Sedin, Vancouver

D Brent Burns, San Jose

D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles

D Mark Giordano, Calgary

G John Gibson, Anaheim

G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles