Is he the one who should wear the “C” on his sweater next season – and beyond?
Is he the one to lead the next generation of players out of this rebuild?
Is Larkin … Larkin?
Or will he eventually develop into what fans yearn for him to be, Steve Yzerman redux?
Those questions and more likely will have to wait until 2021-22 to answer.
During his post-game press conference, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill did not speculate about Larkin’s status over the final eight games.
He could be lost.
And an end to what many consider to be a season of setbacks for the captain, a campaign of regression.
Red Wings Need Larkin
At just 24 years old, Larkin has already amassed six NHL seasons. On Tuesday, he scored his ninth goal moments before suffering the injury. In 44 games this season, Larkin collected 23 points, tied for the team lead with Filip Hronek.
For a skater of Larkin’s ability, .52 points per game are not enough.
When Yzerman became the GM, he didn’t immediately anoint Larkin as the face of the franchise, even though he was. Yzerman, who experienced a similar early-career path, took a season to watch, to study Larkin.
Finally, on Jan. 13, a day before the pandemic-shortened regular season started, Yzerman named Larkin the Red Wings’ 37th captain.
Rough Sailing Captain
The first season of Larkin’s captaincy has been anything but smooth.
- He lost linemate Tyler Bertuzzi to injury after just nine games.
- He lost one of his closest friends, Anthony Mantha, who was traded at the deadline.
- He has a minus-14 rating; minus-78 over his past five seasons.
Larkin also missed four games after suffering an upper-body injury on Feb. 25.
If he is forced to miss more time this season, perhaps it will open a spot for one of the organization’s top center prospects, Joseph Veleno? The rookie spent the two-game trip to Dallas on the taxi squad.
Perhaps, but a bigger question will linger throughout the offseason?
Is Larkin the one to lead the next generation of Red Wings?