A promising sign for the Detroit Red Wings, captain Dylan Larkin took part in the morning skate on Thursday, albeit in a grey, noncontact jersey, but he was at least out there with the boys for a workout.
It’s the first time Larkin has skated with the club since the scary scene nearly a week ago on last Saturday night in Detroit. Of course, you know, Larkin had been cross-checked in the back of the head and neck area by Ottawa’s Mathieu Joseph, and as he stumbled forward, his chin connected with the butt end of Parker Kelly’s stick. As Larkin lay motionless, veteran forward David Perron took it upon himself to seek retribution by viciously cross-checking defenseman Artem Zub in the side of the head. Perron was tossed from the contest and later assessed a six-game suspension for his actions and intent to injure.
The NHL Players Association and Perron appealed the suspension this past Tuesday, but there hasn’t been any movement or resolution yet, as the Red Wings forward has served three games thus far. Perron’s agent Allan Walsh called the suspension “a farce” and the Department of Player Safety a “Kangaroo Court.” He cited Perron’s 1,081 career NHL games without a previous suspension and the fact that Zub remained in the game as counter-arguments to the suspension.
Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde mentioned that someone pointed out that Auston Matthews only got a two-game ban for a similar play. “Pretty similar for four games’ difference in those two (suspensions),” Lalonde said. “David’s had a clean sheet for 1,100 games. … I know he was pretty disappointed, but you’ve got to trust the process and we’ll see where it goes.”
Although Larkin was not made available to reporters following Detroit’s practice, many players spoke about how happy they were to see him back out skating again.
The Detroit Red Wings are happy to see Dylan Larkin back on the ice just a few days removed from a terrifying scene.
Here’s what Lalonde had to say;
"“He was in non-contact, you could see him moving around gingerly,” Lalonde said. “He’s on the IR, obviously unavailable for us at least through Saturday. I think Monday he’s potentially available for us, I think that would probably be a little aggressive. But, it’s a day-to-day type thing, especially with the upper-body he’s dealing with.”"
When prompted on if Larkin may return before the three-day holiday break between December 24-26, this is what Lalonde mentioned;
"“I’m encouraged on the big picture, but you start dealing with some upper-bodies, it wouldn’t be my spot to say,” Lalonde said. “We’d love him back sooner than later. The fact he is skating in a non-contact is positive, but I couldn’t give an exact time frame.”“We wanted to be careful of Dylan’s privacy,” Lalonde said. “He went on IR, I think a lot of people think the worst. But from him being completely out cold to being helped off the ice, made it an optimistic scenario for us.”"
Defenseman Moritz Seider said he was surprised to see Larkin back skating so soon after Saturday’s scary incident.
"“I was surprised he was skating already,” Moritz Seider said. “I think he looks really good. Now it’s just about giving him time and space to fully recover and be ready to go.“Obviously, he brings a lot of joy and happiness to this locker room right now.”"
The Detroit Red Wings captain has totaled 11 goals and 25 points over 24 games this season. He’s also a plus-5 and, more impressively, boasts a Corsi For Percentage of 52.8% while averaging over 19 minutes of work per night. During even-strength play, Larkin also maintains an outstanding 7.7 Relative Corsi For Percentage. His 3.2 points per 60 minutes is also a career-best; this is an uptick from 3.0 in each of the past two seasons.
Although it was great to see Larkin back on the ice, there was some slightly unfortunate news on Thursday. Forward J.T. Compher, who was eligible to come off of Injured Reserve ahead of Detroit’s game against Carolina with what was said to be a day-to-day injury, remained on the shelf. Compher has totaled 19 points, including six goals for the Red Wings this season.
It’s been a tough row to hoe of late for the Red Wings as they try to survive without their top two centermen. They’ve needed others to step up, and they’ve gotten some extra production from the likes of Michael Rasmussen, Joe Veleno, Robby Fabbri, and Daniel Sprong. Still, with how tight the Atlantic Division is, Detroit can ill-afford to endure any lengthy slide.