Looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, is it time to name Dylan Larkin as the next captain of the Detroit Red Wings? The quick answer is; Yes.
The Detroit Red Wings have played the last two seasons, only having assistant captains since the departure of Henrik Zetterberg. The last actual captain of the Red Wings was Zetterberg, who was handed the reins after Nicklas Lidstrom held the position for six seasons.
After a two year period where the Red Wings left the captaincy absent, though, it seems to be known that Dylan Larkin is the captain in waiting. Some fans seemed to think that former Red Wings nineteen-year captain and now General Manager (GM) Steve Yzerman was going to give the captaincy to Larkin.
Eventually, Yzerman would name Larking as one of the four assistant captains for the 2019-20 season. Larkin, now twenty-three years old, is poised to become the teams’ next captain, and the 2020-21 season might be the time to do so.
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It was wishful thinking that Larkin would receive the honors this season, but after Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement, it seemed more likely that Larkin would get the honors.
But after another season as an assistant, it looks like Larkin is just about ready to take over as captain.
In terms of on-ice performance, Larkin has come into his own, in 2019-20 he played in 71 games, scoring 19 goals and adding 34 assists for 53 points.
The Red Wings had some troubles with morale this season, and that did affect Larkin. No one is immune to letting emotions get to them when the team is losing night in and night out.
Around the all-star break, Larkin spoke up and asked fans to stop voting him for the “Last Man In” at the All-Star Game so he could have the long break. This was not the best look for Larkin, but in the second half of the season, the morale switched up for the captain in waiting.
It seemed like Larkin settled into a leadership role or the Red Wings, even while they are losing games left and right. Larkin has been on the Red Wings through this rebuild, and now getting through the heart of it, he deserves the “C” on his jersey to start his captaincy.
Larkin has grown since coming into the league, and it seems like in what will be his sixth season in the National Hockey League (NHL). The Red Wings front office, Yzerman, specifically should see this and hand over the captaincy reins to Larkin.
Ideally, the Detroit Red Wings should turn the corner sooner rather than later when it comes to this rebuild, and giving the captaincy over the Larkin seems like now is the time. Once roster space is cleared for players like Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov, and Joe Veleno to break onto the scene, the page should turn.
The Red Wings should realize that the transition to the younger players is going to begin, and letting Larkin begin his captaincy would be smart at this stage in the game. He can take leadership over the locker room, helping these guys move into NHL roles and develop into the future of the Red Wings organization.
The Red Wings have done an excellent job of surrounding Larkin with veterans that will also help mentor the younger crowd like Valtteri Filppula and Trevor Daley. Though some of the veterans are on the way out, they serve a purpose in mentoring these young players while Larkin emerges as the team’s leader.
After five seasons in the NHL, two years as an assistant, and far too many games into this rebuild, its time to let Larkin take the reins and be the next leader of this Red Wings team. Yzerman needs to call upon Larkin and make his captaincy a part of this “Yzerplan” that is unfolding here in Hockeytown.
Since the year 2000, the Red Wings have seen Steve Yzerman as the long time captain, six years of Nicklas Lidstrom’s leadership, six more years of Henrik Zetterberg, and then the last two with no captain; it’s time this changes.
By the time the 2020-21 season rolls around, hopefully the “D-Boss,” Dylan Larkin, earns his role as the Detroit Red Wings next captain.