New Red Wing Bobby Ryan impressed by Dylan Larkin's leadership, competitiveness
Detroit – When the Red Wings finally get around to naming a captain, it’ll be a shock if it’s not Dylan Larkin.
The Waterford native has seemed to carry that role for the past couple of seasons, really, without actually wearing the "C" on his jersey.
But just in case there are doubters, or anybody out there who doesn’t feel like Larkin has the necessary leadership traits, here’s another example, courtesy of newcomer Bobby Ryan.
The veteran forward was thinking about going to play Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club in northern Michigan and called Larkin about the area around there.
They had the conversation, but then 20 minutes later, Larkin called back and said a group of eight, including Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, among others, would be joining Ryan.
“Larks didn’t have to do that, and he came back and said, ‘I’m taking you,’” Ryan said. “The eight went down there and played and those are the little things that add up.”
Ryan has also been impressed with what Larkin does on the ice, especially the competitiveness that Larkin shows each day.
“I knew his skill level, I just didn’t know the compete level,” Ryan said. “I knew he was a little jerk to play against, but the compete level in every drill, every 3-on-3 game we’ve been playing, his intensity is overwhelming – and that’s a great thing to see.
“That’s a heck of an asset to have, that compete level.”
The anecdotes didn’t surprise coach Jeff Blashill.
“Dylan is a great person, and he has great attributes that the winners always have,” Blashill said. “He’s highly competitive every day and works extraordinarily hard and has the inner drive to be at any level.
“And he’s a real good person.”
Blashill was generally pleased with the conditioning and timing of day one of training camp.
The coaching staff will be implementing different parts of their system, and different “big picture” things will be introduced during the first few days, along with how the Wings will want to play.
Three intra-squad scrimmages interspersed during the final week will get the Wings back into game-type of atmosphere, along with help in player evaluation.
“Usually you have a three-week stretch with exhibition games and now it’s a two-week camp and you have to ramp up to be as ready as you can be without any games,” Blashill said. “You have a balance of guys in practice and not getting guys hurt, but getting them ready for that game action.”
There will be some rust to knock off for the majority of the Wings’ roster, which hasn’t played in 10 months.
“We’ve tried to assimilate as much as you can (with scrimmages leading into camp) but you just can’t assimilate the speed and contact, or how you factor all those things in,” Ryan said. “But those are correctable things you can get back.”
Evgeny Svechnikov is in yet another battle to make the opening night roster and begin an NHL career that has been slowed by major knee surgery two years ago.
The 2015 first-round draft pick is not waiver-exempt anymore, so if Svechnikov is put on waivers, he well may be claimed by another team.
But Svechnikov is focusing more on doing his job and helping the Wings, despite no exhibition games and a shortened training camp.
Svechnikov worked extensively with his brother Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina) during the summer to increase stamina and endurance.
"I'm excited about taking another step forward," Svechnikov said. "I've worked hard, a lot, and I want to take another step forward."
There is likely to be a lot of shuttling players in and out, and injuries sure to crop up, but here are Blashill's first line combinations and defensive pairings during Friday's practice.
Forwards: Bertuzzi-Larkin-Anthony Mantha; Filip Zadina-Fabbri-Ryan; and Vladislav Namestnikov-Valtteri Filppula-Sam Gagner; with Darren Helm-Luke Glendening-Adam Erne comprising the fourth line.
Defense: Danny DeKeyser with Filip Hronek; Marc Staal alongside Patrik Nemeth; and newcomers Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher.
Goaltenders: Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Greiss joined that first team in the morning workouts.
The second team, later on the ice, included forwards Svechnikov, Frans Nielsen, Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith, Taro Hirose and Matthias Brome, and defensemen Alex Biega, Dennis Cholowski and Gustav Lindstrom.