On The Fast Track

Time And Effort Spent At The NTDP Helped Dylan Larkin Make His Mark In The NHL

Dylan Larkin showed off his speed by breaking away from local crowd favorite Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators before eclipsing a 20-year mark in the Fastest Skater event during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.Dylan Larkin showed off his speed by breaking away from local crowd favorite Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators before eclipsing a 20-year mark in the Fastest Skater event during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As  Dylan Larkin raced around the Bridgestone Arena ice on his record-setting run during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, he had more than his family in the stands and Detroit Red Wings fans everywhere cheering him on.

Back in his home state of Michigan, coaches at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program were beaming with pride as another of their accomplished alumni was making his mark on the game.

And no coach was prouder of Larkin’s record-setting effort than Carrie Keil, who has spent the past 16 seasons helping NTDP players improve their skating skills.

“If you look at Dylan and how he beat that record, those are some pretty nice stride mechanics,” Keil said after the 19-year-old shattered an All-Star record older than he is in the fastest skater competition.

“He’s just effortless, and that’s what happens when you do a lot of training and lay down those foundations and motor patterns as early as possible. It’s poetry in motion. Dylan is not thinking about anything, that’s just the way he skates.”

As any coach will quickly point out, it takes more than great coaching to become an all-star. It takes players willing to put in the time and effort to improve their already considerable skill set. For the talented youngsters at the NTDP, that’s the mindset the minute they walk through the door.

“One of the things that I talk about a lot is the fact that skill development is so important regardless of how old you are,” Keil said.

“So while we may get some of the best kids in the country for their birth year, they really do develop quite a bit. I don’t think that any of those 16-year-olds are ready for the NHL at that point. Fortunately, they’re quite focused and enjoy the development as much as we do.”

Over the years Keil has worked with a number of high-level players who have gone on to NHL stardom, including Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Jack Eichel to name a few. It’s a matter of pride for her to turn on any NHL game and see the fruits of her labor shining on the NHL stage.

“We’ve had the privilege of working with many talented young kids and helping hone their skills and helping them become successful NHL players,” she said. “Turn on any NHL game there’s always two or three players who have come through our program. It’s just so enjoyable to watch. It’s a very prideful thing.”

During his two seasons at the National Team Development Program, Dylan Larkin worked on all aspects of his game.During his two seasons at the National Team Development Program, Dylan Larkin worked on all aspects of his game.

Like many of the heralded prospects who join the program, Larkin used his time in Ann Arbor working with the coaches to get bigger, stronger and improve all facets of his game, including his skating skills.

“He worked so hard when he was with us at the NTDP,” Keil said. “He’s just one of those humble, blue collar guys who just shows up and soaks everything up like a sponge. It’s paying off for him now. He’s obviously having a fantastic rookie season. We’re very happy for him.”

After two seasons in Ann Arbor, where he amassed 84 points, Larkin spent a year at the University of Michigan before turning pro with the Red Wings, who selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

His rookie season has been beyond anyone’s greatest expectations as his 33 points in his first 48 NHL games have not only propelled him near the top of the rookie scoring race but also punched his ticket to Nashville, as the Red Wings sole representative.

“When I was at Ann Arbor I dreamed of [being an All-Star] and grew up watching All-Star Games, but I didn’t think it would come this fast,” Larkin said as he walked the red carpet.

If Larkin was nervous about his first NHL All-Star appearance, he sure didn’t show it. The Red Wings rookie looked right at home among the game’s elite players. In addition to his big splash in the skills competition, he dished out three assists in the opening game of the 3-on-3 All-Star competition. But in the final game, he was blanked, along with his Atlantic division teammates, by the Pacific division goaltending tandem of Jonathan Quick and John Gibson with $1 million on the line.

“I’m glad I got to be here,” Larkin said afterward. “The whole weekend was a lot of fun, a celebration of how my year is going."

 “I was able to just kick back, relax, meet the guys and have as much fun as I can. It was a no-pressure, fun weekend.”

Spoken like a man on the fast track to NHL stardom.

Issue: 
2016-03

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