By @MichaelCaples –
PHILADELPHIA – He grew up a fan of the Detroit Red Wings.
Now, he’s a member of the organization.
The Red Wings selected Waterford native Dylan Larkin with their first-round pick at the 2014 NHL Draft.
“I’ve always been a fan,” Larkin said before stepping to the podium for his first media session as a member of the Red Wings. “I grew up watching the Nick Lidstroms and the Yzermans and Drapers, it’s a good organization, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Larkin, a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, will be staying close to home for a long time to come. He will be attending the University of Michigan in the fall, and when it comes time to move from college to the professional level, he will do so either in Detroit or Grand Rapids.
The Belle Tire product – who won both state and national titles during his youth hockey days – was the first American selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. He’s also the highest-drafted Red Wing since 1991, when they picked Martin Lapointe at the No. 10 spot.
Larkin ranked second on the NTDP U18 team in scoring this season, recording 31 goals and 56 total points. He also recorded 56 penalty minutes and a +23 rating on the season, his second with the elite American club. He said his experience with the NTDP – competing in both the USHL and on the international stage – has put him on the right path for a potential NHL career.
“I think playing against the best, the leagues we play in, training with the best, on the ice with the NTDP and the best coaches, we play against the best players in the country – it just sets you up to be the best player you can be,” Larkin said.
Larkin talked to MiHockey about meeting the Wings’ management group at the NHL Combine, and after admitting that he was a little nervous, he said it was a great experience.
“Those guys, they understood it,” he said a few weeks ago about talking to both the Wings’ management group and Steve Yzerman. “They just tried to get to know you as a person. I just tried to be myself, answer the questions honestly, but it was mostly about how I play, what I can bring to their teams.”
Larkin wears No. 19 after he was compared to Yzerman growing up – the Waterford native (whose family recently moved to Clarkston) was told so by former Red Wing Doug Brown, who coached him in youth hockey.
“Steve Yzerman, the captain, pretty much says it all, the way he led his team,” Larkin said when asked about his favorite Red Wing. “He played a two-way game. Off the ice the way he acted, he was a true professional, a class guy.”
Tonight, he said hearing his name called at the Wells Fargo Center was an incredible experience for the whole Larkin family.
“It’s special. It’s something my family and myself will remember for a while. I was pretty nervous but just hearing your name is a relief.”
The Wolverines’ commit has no plans of going anywhere but Ann Arbor next fall, as well.
“Definitely. Even Coach Babcock said you’re in a good spot with Red Berenson. They’re good friends. It’ll be a good time there.”