Dylan Larkin becomes Red Wings’ 37th captain, marking a new era in Hockeytown

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The Detroit Red Wings have named Dylan Larkin as captain, the team announced on Wednesday.

Larkin, 24, is the 37th player in franchise history to wear the ‘C’, and the first since Henrik Zetterberg.

The native of Waterford Township, Michigan is entering his sixth NHL season, after being selected 15th overall by the Red Wings in the 2014 draft. In 389 career games, the center has tallied 266 points.

Detroit has played the last two seasons without a captain, finishing near the bottom of the league in both years. For the duration of those two seasons, Larkin served as one of the team’s alternate captains.

Are the Wings jumping the gun by making Larkin captain?

Larkin has three years left on his contract and is just one of two players on the roster to be signed through the 2022-2023 season. General manager Steve Yzerman’s apparent commitment to a youth movement starts with the team’s new captain. Since entering the league in 2015-2016, the 24-year old has led the Red Wings in points three times.

“Dylan is an extremely competitive and driven player who sets the standard for dedication and conduct for the Red Wings,” said Yzerman in a team statement released Wednesday morning. “This is the right time to name our new captain and we’re certain Dylan is ready to take on the responsibility. He will be an outstanding leader for us, both on and off the ice.”

Larkin’s emergence in his rookie season signaled the end of an era in Detroit. It became clear at the time that the Michigan native would soon become the team’s best player, after the pending exits of both Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Naming the 24-year-old captain of the Red Wings comes to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Despite reaching the 70-point plateau just once in his career thus far, Larkin has been Detroit’s best player since he entered the league. He symbolized the changing of the guard five years ago, and now, will officially act as the face of the team. Being from Michigan and growing up as a Red Wings fan only adds to the love affair that ‘Hockeytown’ has had with Larkin in recent years.

From here however, the question will remain: When will the Red Wings transition from being a “rebuilder” to a “playoff contender”? Recent first-round picks Lucas Raymond (2020) and Filip Zadina (2018) are bound to bring optimism to Motown, but in the case Zadina, the upcoming season will be more telling in whether he’s a player Yzerman builds around moving forward.

Either way, Larkin and fellow forward Anthony Mantha are the only players on the roster to be signed through 2022-2023. It’s clear where the rebuild has started and where it must end — with the captain.

Larkin is the fourth player to wear the ‘C’ in Detroit since 2000, joining Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Zetterberg.

Going even further into Red Wings history, Larkin is the first American-born player to be named as captain since defenseman Reed Larson was in 1980.

Larkin’s career-year thus far came in 2018-2019, when he became the franchise’s first 30-goal scorer since a foursome of Wings did it in 2008-2009 (Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, Datsyuk and Zetterberg).

The Red Wings will open its season at home on Thursday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

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