Stepping away from the trophy ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Classic’s Area 313 Celebrity Scramble on Tuesday, Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was all smiles.
The Waterford native paired up with Will Zalatoris, the 2022 PGA Championship and U.S. Open runner-up, and Mariah Stackhouse, a six-year LPGA Tour pro. The group didn’t win — that honor went to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and partners Matt Kuchar and Joe Hooks — but Larkin said he thoroughly enjoyed hitting the links with pros again. He last took part in the event in 2019.
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Larkin, who turns 26 on Saturday, was also just happy to lend a hand to the charities surrounding the event. Additionally, he said he took the time to unwind more as the Wings’ season draws even closer — something Larkin is also excited for.
“The team’s spending money on some very skilled players (and) a lot of pieces that we needed,” Larkin said at the Detroit Golf Club. “I’m very excited for the pressure going into camp. We’ve got the pieces. Now we’ve got to do something with it.”
At the NHL draft earlier this month, general manager Steve Yzerman selected forward by Marco Kasper at No. 8, and picked up six other forwards and two defensemen with their remaining picks. Yzerman also traded a third-round pick for goalie Ville Husso before the draft’s second day.
Detroit’s front office then acquired three forwards and three defensemen through free agency as the summer progressed. There are now more than 12 experienced forwards under contract for the Wings’ next season. This will help the team’s depth immediately, as forward Robby Fabbri (knee) and defenseman Jake Walman (shoulder) have been ruled out for the start of 2022-23.
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“There’s a lot of new faces,” Larkin said. “We’re going to have to mesh quickly. I’ve already spoke to a lot of the new signings. Everyone’s excited, everyone’s very knowledgeable about the players we have and what we added.
“What I like most is the (new guys’) skill level … I haven’t been this excited for going into camp and going into the season in quite some time. There’s huge upside for our team, we just have to go out and prove it.”
Larkin, a first round pick for Detroit in 2014, said playing for a new coach is an experience he’s ready to go through. Yzerman hired Derek Lalonde, an assistant for the Tampa Bay Lightning since 2018, as Detroit’s head coach on June 30. Lalonde replaces Jeff Blashill, who coached the Wings since 2015 and has now joined the Lightning as an assistant.
In his early conversations with Lalonde, Larkin — who had 31 goals and 38 points in 71 games last season — said the 49-year-old’s “fresh voice” has the franchise ready to put its rebuild behind them.
“The talks have been great,” Larkin said. “We talked right away after he was hired. Seems like he’s very excited to come in. Obviously, everyone knows, through what (Yzerman) said and after (Lalonde’s) press conference at the start, team defense is something we’re going to really work on. I think the guys that were on the team last year, and the new signings, are ready for that challenge.”
Chandler Engelbrecht is a reporting intern at The Detroit Free Press and can be reached at CEngelbrecht@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @ctengelbrecht.
Tee it up
What: Rocket Mortgage Classic, PGA Tour event.
When: Thursday-Sunday; Round 1 begins 7:18 a.m. Thursday.
Where: Detroit Golf Club.
Purse: $8.4 million; winner will get $1.512 million.
Defending champ: Cam Davis.
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