Once under the tutelage of former Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, Dylan Larkin now feels prepared to take on the vacant leadership role left in his absence.
Zetterberg was placed on long-term injury reserve last year after holding the captaincy for six seasons, marking the first time in franchise history the Red Wings went an entire season without a captain.
The 23-year-old Larkin spoke highly about Zetterberg’s leadership, and the impact he’s had throughout his four seasons in the NHL.
"He was the best captain I've ever played for in my young career, but you see a lot of guys that played in other places that played for pretty good captains and they speak very highly of what kind leader he was.” Larkin told TSN.
“I think just his extra gear that he had – he always found a way to push harder and when the team seemed to have nothing he had that extra oomph and he found a way to get it done. He was always reliable. He always did the right things in the locker room, showed up to the rink, worked as hard as he could and set a good example for the young guys.”
Larkin was an alternate captain last season alongside more veteran players, but when asked if he feels ready to take that next step as captain, he responded: "I feel ready for it.”
Production-wise, Larkin is coming off his career-best season in the NHL, scoring 32 goals and 73 points in 76 games, while recording the ninth-highest average ice time among all NHL forwards.
Larkin reflected on his growth over last season.
"I took a big step in my game, my 200-foot game, and I think I got a lot of confidence after that season. I need to take another step and become even better in my own zone, and score more, or contribute in different ways offensively. I'm excited to get back at it."
With eyes on Detroit to name a captain before the season begins, the Michigan native isn’t letting the possible pressure of leading his hometown Red Wings get in the way of his goals for next year.
"A letter is a letter, but being a captain of a franchise like the Detroit Red Wings would mean a lot to me. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I still get to play for the Detroit Red Wings, I get to play in the NHL and I'm going to try to play my best."
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