Column: All-Star weekend shines light on Detroit’s most important player

Octopus Thrower

The captain of the Detroit Red Wings, Dylan Larkin, will represent the organization at the NHL’s All-Star Weekend. While it won’t affect the Wings’ season, the weekend will shine a well-deserved spotlight on Detroit’s most important player.

The Red Wings are used to being the team at the top. The team that every organization aspires to be. But after decades of success, it all came crashing down in the mid 2010’s, when Detroit finally began a rebuild that had been inevitable for years.

During the rebuild, other teams usurped the Red Wings title of the ideal organization. Teams like the Tampa Bay Lighting rule the league, garnering the most media attention and taking most of the spotlight.

That’s just sports. I’m not here to complain about it.

However, something unfortunate happens when a team fades from the top of the league. The league hones in on the young stars and players of teams that are winning now, while the talent of those on losing squads is overlooked. Those players stuck in the middle of a rebuild don’t tend to get the credit they deserve.

Dylan Larkin is one such player.

Larkin has been a Red Wings since the 2015-16 season – coincidentally, that was the last time Detroit made the playoffs. He was excellent in his rookie season, scoring 23 goals and tacking on 22 assists in 80 games. After the 2015-16 season, the Red Wings had their worst stretch of play since the 1980s. The rock bottom came in 2019-20, when the team finished at 17-49-5, the third worst winning percentage in franchise history. But through that pain, Larkin was one of the few bright spots on the roster, consistently impressing with top-end speed and skill.

Last season, Larkin was finally rewarded for his guiding role during the rebuild, as the Red Wings awarded him with the captaincy. This year, he’s living up to that title. For a few years now, debate has raged whether Larkin can be a true number one center on a quality team. Averaging over a point per game halfway through the season, Detroit’s captain is quieting those concerns.

But the Red Wings are still not great. Even with Calder-worthy performances from Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, Detroit currently has a sub-.500 record.

As Detroit continues to improve, the spotlight on Larkin will only get brighter. But for now, events like the All-Star Weekend will offer a well-earned moment of attention for the Red Wings most important player.

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