The captaincy of the Detroit Red Wings is a special honor. It means much more than having a “C” stitched onto your jersey and the organization wants someone who can lead this team for many years to come. Someone who will be remembered for years after they retire. With all due respect to Niklas Kronwall, If they didn’t they would have just named him captain for a year.
They have that in 22 year-old Dylan Larkin. A rising star who is beloved by everybody. Oh and I mean everybody. Head coach Jeff Blashill speaks highly of him as a player who wants to expand his role on the team, fans blow up the Red Wings Twitter mentions anytime he scores a goal, you can even hear the extra excitement in Ken Daniels voice when its Larkin finding the back of the net.
The season Larkin is having has put to rest any of the “ifs” when it comes to him being named the 37th captain in franchise history.
To put it into perspective, this year he is leading the team in points with 31, 9 of which have come from his current 6 game point streak. He is tied for the league lead in overtime goals with 3. He scored 16 goals during all of the 2017-18 season. He’s already racked up 14 and we haven’t even hit New Years day yet. He’s blossomed into a star right in front of our eyes.
Being a captain goes beyond that, however.
The way he has embraced being a leader is something to behold. He brings a positive energy to the ice, but also knows how to handle the media after a tough loss. Larkin is carving out his own path with his own identity, but he wouldn’t be the player he is today without a franchise legend.
Larkin learned from one of the best in his first three NHL seasons. Everyday he got to study Henrik Zetterberg — who will one day see his number 40 raised to the Little Caesars Arena rafters. The kind of impact seeing a professional like that come to the rink everyday and lead by example stretches beyond what you can do with the puck on your stick.
You can see the shades of Zetterberg in the way he carries himself. Humbled. Mentally tough. Wants to get better. Wants to win.
He’s the complete package in what you want in someone to lead your team for a long time. Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, etc. are all fine players, but there is a reason their names aren’t in this conversation. Larkin is different from them.
It is now a matter of when will he be granted the captaincy.
And I ask, how can it not be by the start of next season? You won’t find a single red flag in Larkin’s character that should prevent it from happening. “Too young and inexperienced” doesn’t seem like a valid argument any more. “Wait for your generational talent” isn’t a workable timetable, especially when you have someone of Larkin’s caliber awaiting.
The one asterisk I can think of is leaving the captaincy vacant in respect to Zetterberg. Hank hasn’t technically retired yet (he is on long-term injury reserved until his contract expires), so that could leave things up in the air. But I think both sides understand his career is over and moving on isn’t a slight to what Zetterberg did in his illustrious 15 year career.
Making way for Larkin to be the next captain will soon be a priority. There is no doubt about it. He will be the Red Wings next captain.