Dylan Larkin and Jeff Blashill talk about the Red Wings' decision to go with four alternate captains. David Guralnick, The Detroit News
Traverse City — The Red Wings aren’t going to have a captain this season but that’s fine with Dylan Larkin — the player many Red Wings fans suspected would be the captain.
The Wings have decided to go with four alternate captains — as it did last season upon Henrik Zetterberg’s retirement — with Larkin and Justin Abdelkader serving as full-time alternates, and Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening splitting home and away games.
Glendening replaces Niklas Kronwall, who retired this offseason.
Larkin is fine with the decision made by general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Jeff Blashill.
“I get to play for the Detroit Red Wings, and in our locker room, I can assure you that leadership is not a problem,” Larkin said Friday. “I’m extremely happy for Luke. It’s well deserved. But you could look at 10 guys that could wear 'A’s' on our team and wear 'C’s.'
“They (coaches and management) know what they’re doing. I’m not disappointed at all.”
Larkin was adamant he doesn’t need any extra motivation this season to prove he should be captain.
“I want to win, I want to play well, I want to represent the city, my teammates and the fans and my family as well as I can,” Larkin said. “I’m a driven person. I want to be great. I want this team to be great and I want to have a great season. So extra motivation, no. I’m motivated to take this team to where we need to be.”
Yzerman and Larkin spoke several weeks ago. Larkin said the conversation “wasn’t negative at all, it was encouraging.”
Yzerman was impressed watching Larkin play last season, and the significant step Larkin took in his career.
“He’s just entering the prime of his career,” Yzerman said. “You spend your first few years, you figure out the league and you get comfortable and understand what it takes and what you need to improve upon.
“From talking with everyone, from spending a little bit of time with him, he’s a worker, he’s driven, he wants to do well. I expect him only to continue to improve.”
Blashill wanted to move Glendening into an alternate captain’s position after Kronwall’s retirement.
“He is somebody I’ve leaned on a little bit, somebody that leads by example,” Blashill said. “He has a bigger voice and this will help his voice come out.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s a letter or not a letter, whether it’s a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ or a guy doesn’t wear a letter, really none of that totally matters. I get it, it’s on the jersey, but there’s lots of different ways to lead. We’ve got lots of guys who can lead — Mike Green is a hell of a leader, Trevor Daley is a hell of a leader. There are other guys on our team that are really good leaders that aren’t wearing letters.
“Guys that are wearing letters, we expect them to take on a bigger role at times.”
Prove them wrong
Many analysts are predicting another long season, and another spring without the playoffs for the Red Wings.
Tyler Bertuzzi is using that as fuel to prove those people wrong.
The Wings have missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons, but Bertuzzi said this team expects more.
“Everyone has us not making the playoffs again, and just the same path we’ve been on the last few years,” Bertuzzi said. “We want to change that.
“Just kind of our ending last year, we were playing real well at the end of the season. We got a couple of new guys, and just more experience from guys, and we have our older guys leading the way.”
Larkin noted not having Kronwall around will be different for the Wings.
“It’s going to hurt a lot,” Larkin said. “The man he was in our locker room, he took a lot of hits in the media after games and he handled everything with class. That’s the kind of guy he was. He was a class guy in the locker room and in the community and he did everything the right way.
“I congratulate him on retiring, but we’ll miss him and what a great man he is.”
Blashill said expectations for Evgeny Svechnikov, who missed all last season because of knee surgery, should be tempered this season.
“It’s going to be a process with Svech and he knows that,” Blashill said. “He’s a great kid and he wants to be a great player. Sometimes he’s trying so hard that he hurts himself. Let’s look at this as a marathon and not a sprint, that’s the biggest thing he has to understand.”
… Valtteri Filppula, who returned to the Wings this summer after leaving in 2013 in free agency, said it was a “little bit” strange to be back in Traverse City.
“But it’s good to be back, I’m real excited,” Filppula said. “It’s a positive thing.”
…Defenseman Oliwer Kaski, an undrafted free agent from Finland, is excited about his opportunity with the Wings. Kaski, 24, played some college hockey at Western Michigan.
“I feel like they really wanted me here and I liked that,” Kaski said. “They understood my style of game and, in the end, it was an easy decision.”