WATERFORD, Mich. — Dylan Larkin gets recognized at a lot of places in metro Detroit.
You'd think the hockey school he runs would be a place he's most easily recognized.
Kids, they always surprise us.
"A lot of them ask if I'm really Dylan Larkin," he told WXYZ on the opening day of his annual Larkin Hockey School in Waterford.
We talked on the ice as Larkin coached. He takes his duties seriously, and insisted on maintaining a focus on his sold-out camp.
Larkin is turning 23 later this summer, just in time for training camp at a pivotal time for the Red Wings. He's expected to be named captain before the season begins, but won't dive into that topic much.
Neither will the kids he's teaching.
"They're more concerned with where they're getting lunch," he laughed.
The Captain is back
Ken Holland's time as Detroit's general manager ended in April. Steve Yzerman took over, and days later Holland left to run the Edmonton Oilers.
Kids watch Larkin on TV with the Red Wings, much like a younger Dylan watched Yzerman on TV years ago.
"It's pretty cool. It's obviously changed a lot for our team and what he's done with the Tampa Bay Lightning is pretty impressive. I hope he can bring that factor of finding great players that can play with players like myself and Anthony Mantha, Andreas (Athanasiou), (Tyler) Bert(uzzi)," he said.
"We have a good core of players and if we can add a couple more key players, it's gonna be a lot of fun for a lot of years for us," Larkin added.
He said he had not yet talked much with Yzerman, but pointed out the Draft was an obvious priority for his new boss.
Larkin also has no plans to make any suggestions to Yzerman's plans as the Red Wings GM.
"I play the game. I love the game. He loves the game as well, and what he's done with Tampa is just special. The team they had this year, he built that team. So I just play the game, and he's a manager. He's gonna manage our team and do what he thinks is necessary for our team. I trust he's gonna do that."
Larkin admitted it's tough to see Ken Holland work for another organization. Holland drafted him in 2014, and signed him to two contracts with the Red Wings.
"I don't think he quite got the credit that he deserves (for) what he's really done: the Presidents' Trophies, the Stanley Cups. Yeah, there were some dark times at the end of his times. but what a phenomenal guy, and a loyal guy"
Larkin watched Holland's press conference. He attributed a lot of the young Red Wings' growth to the former GM.
"We talk about culture in our team a lot, especially after tough losses, or times where things are going really well. I really do feel he built that culture of family and that's why, when people come to Detroit, they love that in our locker room. I think he built that."
Healthy and eager to go
Larkin is cleared to play, and not a moment too soon. He battled through injuries during the Red Wings season, including a neck issue.
He found success at the World Championships before taking a puck in the groin. He didn't play again for Team USA.
"It was the most pain I've ever in my life. I don't really want to go back to it, to be honest with you," he said. "That was a tough one, especially a tough way to end the season."
Larkin considered himself lucky after the incident. He's cleared for contact, and laughed when asked if he's cleared for training camp. To be certain, he's absolutely good to go then, now, and pointed out he's already working like crazy chasing after the kids at his school.
"Body's good. I'm back working out, back skating obviously, and it's a long summer so I'm ready to better myself and be ready for next season."
This is the fourth year Larkin, his family, and his friends have welcomed kids to their home rink at Lakeland Arena for this Larkin Hockey School.
He loves the camaraderie with his closest friends, and everyone who shares the Larkin name.
"Just to come back here and you know, one of these superstars could have their own camp here and that would be cool. That's the whole point of it," Larkin said.