Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill met the media Monday, and talked about the importance of continuing to try and win, despite the possibility of landing a higher NHL Draft pick. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Detroit — It was a fair question — one that Dylan Larkin hadn’t even considered, but given the circumstances was worthy of thinking over.
Michigan was going to play for the NCAA basketball championship Monday night.
Were the Red Wings going to be able to watch it?
“I hope they have it on television. I don’t know if they will allow that in Columbus,” Larkin said after Monday’s practice, as the Red Wings prepared to visit the hometown of the Buckeyes for Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jackets.
Larkin, a former Wolverine, and the other Red Wings were planning on cheering for Michigan.
“It was nice on Saturday, we had an early game and we were able to watch (the Wolverines),” Larkin said of Michigan’s Final Four victory over Loyola-Chicago. “It was fun. I enjoyed it. Moe Wagner, he’s a beast, fun to watch.”
The only negative for Larkin on Monday was the NCAA final start time of 9:20 p.m.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay up the whole game,” said Larkin, who likes to turn in around 10 the night before a game. “I’ll be excited to watch the first half. I probably won’t make it through the second half. I need a lot of sleep.”
Coach Jeff Blashill was another fan planning to watch — but wasn’t thrilled with the tip-off time, either.
“I don’t know why they start so late, incredible,” Blashill said. “(But) I will probably stay up for the whole game.”
A former college player and coach, Blashill appreciates what it takes for any team to reach the championship game in their sport.
“One and done in that Tournament, those are really hard to win,” Blashill said. “But they also increase the odds for teams that aren’t always the best teams but the team who gets the hottest and plays the best and that’s what makes it unique and makes it real special.
“I was part of some real good teams in college, especially at Miami (Ohio), who we felt could have gone deeper than we did and lost the one game. Then the team after I felt, wasn’t as good and they’re in the final game.
“That’s what makes the NCAA Tourney so special.”
SUPPORTING UM HOCKEY TOO
Larkin and Luke Glendening are both former UM hockey players, and Blashill is close with the staff, so all will be supporting the Wolverines in the Frozen Four later in the week.
Larkin would actually be a senior had he stayed all four years. He was drafted by the Red Wings in 2014 and played one year at UM.
“The senior class are all my buddies and I’m excited for them, I’ve talked with them tons and it’s an exciting time for them,” Larkin said of the hockey team, which plays Notre Dame in a national semifinal Thursday night in Saint Paul, Minn.. “No one really predicted them to get his far. They have a tough match up in Notre Dame, but they’ve shown they can beat them, so it’ll be fun to watch. I can’t wait to watch them.”
Blashill was happy for UM coach Mel Pearson and glad to see the program back in the Frozen Four.
“I know that staff, Mel and Billy (Muckalt) and Wise (Brian Wiseman), and those guys, real well, I’ve known them for a long time,” Blashill said. “For Mel, and in his first year, it’s great and it’s good for college hockey, too.
“Michigan has been a brand name for college hockey since I was growing up and watching college hockey and it’s great for college hockey that they’re in the Frozen Four.”
GOING FOR THE WIN
The Red Wings are in the final week of the season, have three games left — and not thinking about “tanking” and missing out of better odds in the NHL Entry Draft.
“I understand the importance of trying to get that first pick, I’m not naïve to that,” Blashill said. “But would you want an athlete that didn’t play to win, that would be crazy. We’re going to play to win and we’ll see what the result is.
“I get it, I understand, but you just have to understand from our perspective we’re playing to win.”
RED WINGS AT BLUE JACKETS
Faceoff: 7 Tuesday, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Outlook: The Blue Jackets (44-29-6, 94 points) are fighting to earn first-round home-ice advantage in the playoffs. ... LW Thomas Vanek (14 points in 16 games) has been an outstanding trade deadline acquisition.