Dylan Larkin 'Raring To Go' If NHL Resumes Play

He's been passing the time working out and raising a puppy.

Jamie and Stoney
April 20, 2020 - 1:21 pm

It's hard to remember now, but the Red Wings' 2019-20 season got off to a dizzying start. A win in Nashville to kick things off, a win against Dallas one night later at home. Eight goals and 16 points between the top line of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. 

Then everything came off the rails. Losing streaks, poor play, injuries, more losing streaks. When the NHL came to a halt last month due to the coronavirus, the Wings were on pace to unseat the 2016-17 Avalanche as the worst team in the salary cap era. At this point, maybe they'd rather move on to next year. 

Not Dylan Larkin. If the NHL resumes play this season, Larkin said he'd "definitely be raring to go."

"Any time you get an opportunity in the league, it’s something you have to take advantage of. For our team, how tough the season was and all the injuries and ups and downs, I think the ending was the worst part, where it was just abrupt," Larkin told the Jamie and Stoney Show. "We had some great games coming up where we were playing against top teams in the NHL. It was a great test for us."

Detroit had 11 games remaining, including two against the Capitals, two against the Lightning and one each against the Blues, Bruins, Maples Leafs, Flyers and Golden Knights. On top of the opportunity for the players in Detroit, it could have been a chance for some of the club's top prospects in Grand Rapids to get a taste of the NHL. The Wings were mulling a call-up for last year's first-round pick Moritz Seider. 

"You don’t know who was going to be coming up and what young guys were going to get to play some games at the end," said Larkin. "That’s an exciting time, especially to give some hope to the fans and to the (team) that these guys are coming up, and next year and the year after they’re going to be making our team better."

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As for the games in the rearview, Larkin laments the fact that Anthony Mantha lost 28 games this season due to injuries. It cost Larkin, Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi the chance to grow as the team's top line, and it probably cost Larkin a few points in the process. After putting up nearly a point per game last season, mostly while playing with Mantha, Larkin had 53 points in 71 games this season. 

"There’s not many guys that can do it on their own in this league. Especially a player like myself, I think I needed Anthony," Larkin said. "The year before I played with Gus Nyquist and Anthony and we moved the puck well. After Gus got traded, Bert came onto our line and we took off at the end of last year. We were hoping to continue that this year and we had a good start, and then the injuries happened.

"It was tough. I think if he was healthy we would have had a great year and we would have been able to really take the next step in our careers and become a go-to line for our team. I think there are positives to take out of it, where we still feel optimistic next season that we’ll be able to play together and hopefully stay healthy. But it was tough for our whole team and tough for myself to lose him a lot like we did this year." 

With the sports world on pause, Larkin said he's spending most of his time working out in his home gym and raising the puppy he just got with his girlfriend. And, like many of us, watching old Red Wings games on TV. 

So, how does the NHL in the '90s compare to today? 

"I think from watching it, the speed and the skating ability is close. Obviously there wasn’t a Connor McDavid type skater at that time, but I don’t think there ever has been. And I do think the puck skills have gotten a little better, more consistently throughout the team," said Larkin. "But those guys played hard. The hooking and holding and slashing, it was definitely more physical than what it was now and they got away with a lot more."