By @MichaelCaples –
TRAVERSE CITY – Right away, he acknowledged the situation.
Might as well get right to the point when you’re at a Red Wings player development camp and your last name is Larkin.
“It’s nice, I get to live in Dylan’s shoes for a little bit finally,” Adam Larkin said with a laugh.
The Wings’ No. 71 no longer attends the Wings’ annual development camp, but this year, his cousin has taken his place.
Adam Larkin, a soon-to-be senior defenseman at Yale and native of Clarkston, Mich., told MiHockey he’s thrilled to be skating with his hometown team for the week-long camp.
“I’m really happy to be here, really excited,” Larkin said. “It’s cool to put that Winged Wheel on for a little bit and see what it’s like. I listened to Ken Holland earlier say what it takes to make it to the NHL, and it’s a cool thing to think that you’re even that close.”
While his cousin isn’t joining him, the smooth-skating defenseman and Muskegon Lumberjacks alum does have a few friends joining him at Centre Ice Arena.
“I used to play with Tommy Marchin at Honeybaked, and Mitch Eliot was on the ’98 team when I was there, so I’ve seen him around over the years,” Larkin said. “Both those guys were on Muskegon the year after I was, so I’ve seen those guys around and that’s certainly who I’ve been hanging around.”
He was thankful for a little extra advice from Dylan, who attended the camp in 2014 and 2015.
“I think he was telling me what to expect, definitely told me that I needed to prepare for the conditioning test that was coming up,” Larkin said. “Really, he said to come here and take advantage because it’s a learning opportunity. It really is – to have a chance to take tips and hints from the great coaching staff here and take it back to school with me this year and keep building off that.”
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Building off his development camp experience during his senior season at Yale could certainly help his hockey career. Last season, he posted 18 points in 32 games as a junior – a 14-point jump from his sophomore season.
“I think just keep building off of last year – I had a better offensive production season for myself last year,” Larkin said. “Ken Holland was in here talking about how you have to be able to play special teams at your own level, so I think for me to be a key special teams guy, both power play and penalty kill, will be a big goal for me. We’re going to have a good crop of defenseman who are returning for our team and some good newcomers, so it’s going to be definitely competitive, which is great – it will challenge me to take the next step and keep improving in all areas of the game.”
And what’s it like, skating in front of Ken Holland?
“Little nerve-wracking,” he admitted. “I try not to make eye contact, kind of. It is what it is. Even playing college hockey, you know even if you don’t see people in the crowd you know they’re there and on certain nights that they are there. I think your best bet is just keep playing and not worry too much about their eyes being on you if they are.”
Being more familiar with the organization than most has its benefits, though. Larkin said he felt more comfortable knowing how well his cousin has been treated by the Wings’ coaching staff and management, and his own opportunities to cross paths with them, as well.
“I think so, and like I said, Dylan helped me a lot with being prepared and knowing what to expect coming here,” Larkin said. “Everybody talks about how these things are such a learning experience, and they are. I even hear veteran guys talk about how they’ve went through the process and they know what it’s like and having him, it almost makes it easier for me having never gone through the process like this.”
The development camp could benefit Larkin in his other off-season hockey endeavor, as well – Adam plays a significant role in the organization and operations of the Larkin Hockey School, run with all four Larkin boys (Adam, Dylan, Dylan’s brother Colin and Adam’s brother Ryan).
“We might be, I don’t want to give away any of our secrets yet,” Larkin said with a smile when asked if he would be bringing home any new drills. “We’ve got that coming up in a week and a half. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve got to finish my camp here and then we’ll start a different one back home.”