'I can't be more honored': Red Wings name Dylan Larkin captain

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
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The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday named center Dylan Larkin the 37th captain in the franchise's history.

Larkin, 24, is entering his sixth season in Detroit. A Waterford native and former Michigan standout, Larkin becomes the first Michigander to be named captain of the team.

The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday named center Dylan Larkin the 37th captain in the franchise's history.

"It's hard to put into words," Larkin said in a Zoom session with media after Wednesday's practice. "I understand the significance of this role. I've seen it, been around it, I've been a fan and been to games. I can't be more honored.

"I try to be myself every day and I have a great support system. It doesn't stop here. I don't change who I am. It means so much to me."

Centers Luke Glendening and Frans Nielsen will serve as alternate captains for the 2020-21 season.

Larkin met with general manager Steve Yzerman — obviously himself a legendary Wings captain — Tuesday and gladly accepted the role of captain.

"It was special," said Larkin of the meeting. "I didn't need a big announcement or anything like that. Steve asked me whether I was willing to take on the responsibility and I said 'absolutely.'

"He said he wasn't big on giving guys advice, but said not to put too much pressure on myself and not change who you are because of your role on the team."

Larkin called his brother, Colin, with the news after the meeting with Yzerman, and told his parents Kevin and Denise on Tuesday night, personally, driving to their house.

Larkin said he waited to give his parents the information last because Dad might leak the news in his excitement.

"It was very special," Larkin said. "I wanted to tell them in person. Dad would have leaked the news yesterday. They were very proud and it was just one of the more special times in my career to tell them and big them a big hug."

Larkin has served as an alternate captain for the Red Wings since 2018-19.  No one has worn the 'C' since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018 due to injury.

Larkin spoke respectfully of the impact Zetterberg had on Larkin's entrance into the NHL.

"Henrik was the ultimate captain to me," Larkin said. "He did everything. He kept his emotions in check and whatever was going on in the locker room, he had his thumb on it and handled everything like a captain should, pulling guys aside and having a mature conversation. The way he carried himself, all the guys respected him as great as anyone I've seen.

"He was beloved in our locker room."

Larkin becomes only the second American to be named captain of the Wings, since Reed Larson (Minneapolis) in 1982-83.

Larkin's career has been exclusively linked to the state of Michigan, playing his youth hockey in the Lakeland Hockey Association and with Belle Tire AAA Hockey, before spending two seasons with the Plymouth Township-based U.S. National Team Development Program (2012-14), one season at the University of Michigan (2014-15) and debuting professionally with the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins during the team's postseason run in 2014-15 prior to making the Red Wings as a 19-year-old in 2015-16.

“He’s a really good person. He’s a mature young man, responsible, he cares,” Yzerman said. “We feel with our team, the age he’s at, where we are as an organization, his maturity as a hockey player, he has a lot of attributes that make him a natural leader and perfect fit for us as our captain.

 “I strongly believe he represents our organization extremely well. He’s extremely proud to be a part of the Red Wings organization and has a burning desire to be successful here.”

Larkin has appeared in 389 games with the team since 2015-16, totaling 266 points (107 goals) and 246 penalty minutes.

Coach Jeff Blashill, Larkin's only coach at the professional level, felt it was the right move at the right time.

"In order to lead people you have to have the respect of the people you're leading and he has the respect of every person in that room - players, coaches, staff, because of his work ethic and inner drive, competitiveness, how much he wants this organization to get back to the top," Blashill said.

Blashill has also coached Larkin three times at the  men's world championships, and watched as Larkin's leadership has expanded on that stage.

"He's learned from great leaders, but ultimately who he is is why he's the right guy to be captain of this hockey team," Blashill said.

Larkin talked about the "tough" conversations he's had with Blashill over the years, and how those talks have helped Larkin evolve and develop into the person he's become.

"Blash has been very good to me, we have a great relationship," Larkin said. "I've had in my career more 'hard' talks than 'good' talks but there's a great deal of respect. He has the best interests of the team and now we can work together to turn things around."

In all, Wednesday's announcement of Larkin's captaincy was an exclamation point to a lifelong passion with the organization.

"Being in school, my favorite time of the year was the playoffs because we got to wear jerseys and we'd get extra credit for wearing Wings' gear to school," Larkin said. "In 2002 I got to miss school to come to the (Stanley Cup) parade on Woodward.  Just special things like that. It was very special, knowing the history and what it means to my family, and friends who are fans.

"It's special and it means a lot to me."

Red Wings captains

► 1926-27 - Art Duncan

► 1927-30 - Reg Noble (three seasons)

► 1930-31 - George Hay

► 1931-32 - Carson Cooper

► 1932-33 - Larry Aurie

► 1933-34 - Herbie Lewis

► 1934-35 - Ebbie Goodfellow

► 1935-38 - Doug Young (three seasons)

► 1938-41 - Ebbie Goodfellow (three seasons) 

► 1941-42 - Ebbie Goodfellow, Syd Howe

► 1942-43 - Sid Abel

► 1943-44 - Mud Bruneteau, Bill Hollett 

► 1944-45 - Bill Hollett

► 1945-46 - Bill Hollett, Sid Abel

► 1946-52 - Sid Abel (six seasons)

► 1952-56 - Ted Lindsay (four seasons)

► 1956-58 - Red Kelly (two seasons)

► 1958-62 - Gordie Howe (four seasons)

► 1962-73 - Alex Delvecchio (11 seasons)

► 1973-74 - Alex Delvecchio, Nick Libett, Red Berenson, Gary Bergman, Ted Harris, Mickey Redmond, Larry Johnston

► 1974-75 - Marcel Dionne

► 1975-76 - Danny Grant, Terry Harper

► 1976-77 - Danny Grant, Dennis Polonich

► 1977-78 - Dan Maloney, Dennis Hextall

► 1978-79 - Dennis Hextall, Nick Libett, Paul Woods

► 1979-80 - Dale McCourt

► 1980-81 - Errol Thompson, Reed Larson

► 1981-82 - Reed Larson

► 1982-86 - Danny Gare (four seasons)

► 1986-06 - Steve Yzerman (19 seasons)

► 2006-12 - Nicklas Lidstrom (six seasons)

► 2012-18 - Henrik Zetterberg (six seasons)

► 2020-pres. - Dylan Larkin

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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