Red Wings won't have captain; will go with 4 alternate captains instead

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Forward Dylan Larkin is one of four alternate captains for the Red Wings, head coach Jeff Blashill said Thursday.

Traverse City — The Red Wings will not have a captain to begin the season.

Coach Jeff Blashill, at the team’s charity golf tournament Thursday, said the Wings will go with four alternate captains.

Jusitn Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening will be the four alternates.

Glendening replaces Niklas Kronwall, who recently retired, and had been a longtime alternate.

There was much speculation over the summer that Larkin, 23, would be named captain before this season.

Larkin, who served an alternate last season after Henrik Zetterberg gave up the captaincy upon retiring, took a major step in his career last season on and off the ice, growing into a stronger leadership role.

But Blashill said after talking with new general manager Steve Yzerman, it was determined to go with the four alternates, although the team could change its mind at some point.

Only three players are allowed to wear a letter during a game. Last season, Larkin (at home) and Nielsen (on the road) split duties while Abdelkader and Kronwall were full-time alternate captains.

Reason for optimism

Nielsen feels this Red Wings’ roster could surprise people, mainly due to the talent of the young players.

“We made some real good additions,” said Nielsen, noting the Wings adding forward Valtteri Filppula and defenseman Patrik Nemeth, along with the expected infusion of young talent. “With Stevie coming in, you can see guys are really on their toes around here right now. He brings a lot of respect.

“Then, Larks (Larkin) and the young guys, I’m sure they’re going to build and get even better from last year. It’s just up to us other guys. We have to keep it going, too.

“We have some good pieces. It’s a tough division we’re in, but talent-wise, we’re really strong.”

With a new leader of the organization (Yzerman) in charge, Nielsen expects a different sort of camp, with players attempting to prove to the new front office they belong.

“You don’t know what he’s thinking, you have to show your best out there,” Nielsen said. “It’s not his guys, so he has no issue moving guys.

“You have to bring it.”

Prospect champs

Blashill was enthused to see the performance of the Red Wings’ prospect team, which won the annual eight-team tournament Tuesday, defeating Dallas in the championship.

Forwards Joe Veleno, Ryan Kuffner, Filip Zadina, and Givani Smith and defenseman Moritz Seider all had fine tournaments.

“Game 4 (of the tournament) is always a tough game in terms of the guys are real tired, it’s four games in five nights, so I don’t know that’s the best evaluation in that game,” Blashill said. “Our guys played well, obviously winning the tournament means that they had to do a lot of things right. A number of players showed pretty well. Let’s extend that now into camp and keep going.”

Healthy vets

Defensemen Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson and Mike Green, all of whom ended the season on the injured list — and missed substantial time during the regular season — will be able to begin practice on Friday, Blashill said.

“I’ve talked to all three of those guys; they all feel real good,” Blashill said. “I anticipate them all being healthy and ready to go.

“Green has had no setbacks at all, he felt good all summer, he’s trained hard. He feels like he’s in a good spot. Talked to Dales (Daley), same thing. Dales had a little bit of a tough year, it probably went unnoticed last year in terms of he was in, he was out, he was in, he was out (of the lineup). He feels great. He thought he had a great summer and the same things would go for Johnny.”