The surprise retirement of Henrik Zetterberg has made a huge ripple effect on the Detroit Red Wings. Zetterberg has been a staple for the franchise for many years but was also the team’s captain. There have been a few names tossed around to be the next captain. However, Dylan Larkin has all the tools to be the next captain.
Larkin was immediately thought of as a future captain after he signed a five-year contract over the summer. The 22-year-old is a Waterford, Michigan native and played his college hockey at the University of Michigan. He’s been one of the faces of hockey in the state.
Red Wings Captain Candidates
There are other names being considered for the captaincy. Veterans like Justin Abdelkader, Niklas Kronwall and Frans Nielsen have also been mentioned as Zetterberg’s successor. All of them would be good choices due to their long stints with the club. The latter two names both have a tremendous work ethic and Nielsen is very similar to Zetterberg in his approach.
Abdelkader and Kronwall have spent their entire careers in Detroit. Nielsen is going into his third season with the team but he’s had a long, solid career in the league.
One thing working against Kronwall may be in his final season with the team. His deal runs out and he even admits that his career is on its last legs. However, he is the last player remaining from the 2008 Stanley Cup Champions and has stepped up in the locker room over the last few seasons.
Another idea that’s been bandied about is not having a captain and honouring Zetterberg with this gesture. The New York Rangers did this when they traded Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning and have yet to name a new captain. New York is likely to keep their captaincy vacant while they’re in the middle of their own rebuild.
Stability With the “C”
Detroit has only had three captains in the last 32 seasons. Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Zetterberg are the captains during this span. The Red Wings have always had stable leadership over the last three decades.
Kronwall would likely be a one-year captain and Detroit would likely have to go through this process again at the start of next season. It would be a nice gesture to give him the captaincy for his final season.
However, Larkin would provide stability and be the long-term solution for at least the next five years. He’s not going anywhere for the near future.
The Case for Dylan Larkin as Captain
Larkin is trying to deflect questions whenever the media brings the captain question up. He displays his trademark modesty and says that he just wants to play hockey. However, the fans and experts think it’ll only be a matter of time.
His hockey intelligence has always been good, but he’s learned even more from Zetterberg. He knows how to handle himself on the ice and during media scrums. Larkin is always one of the more sought-after players no matter how the team does.
He’s grown over the last few seasons and sewing the “C” on his sweater is the next logical step. However, the team is careful in every step it makes. Sometimes the team is too careful in making a move.
One can understand if the Wings don’t name a captain next season, but Larkin is the obvious next choice. Naming him the next captain would show how committed the team is to their home state star.
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 05: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) looks on during a regular season NHL hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings on April 5, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)