Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin got his wish. Larkin wasn’t named as one of the “Last Men In” for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game after imploring fans not to vote for him so he could instead get a break. Even so, Larkin apologized to the Red Wings and NHL for somewhat glib comments.
“In the moment, I said what I said but I really do regret that,” Larkin said, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free-Press. “I didn’t mean to disrespect the league. I feel I did that, and disrespected the Red Wings. My main goal as a hockey player in the state of Michigan is to represent myself and the Red Wings and be a good example for kids growing up playing the game. I felt I wasn’t that, so I’m sorry about that.”
Hmm, you almost wonder if Steve Yzerman or someone else gave Larkin a “talking to.”
Larkin made his initial comments late in 2019, providing what was honestly some pretty amusing honesty.
Red Wings' Dylan Larkin on possibly being fan-voted to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game: "Please don’t vote. I like the days off more.”
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) December 31, 2019
This is hockey, though, so you can bet the grumbling rolled in. Sportsnet’s Brian Burke and others criticized Larkin, something the forward acknowledged in his apology.
The NHL’s Bill Daly complained about players skipping All-Star game appearances, including Alex Ovechkin. Marc-Andre Fleury and other veterans have opted for rest, too.
Larkin earned bonus points because, unlike grizzled veterans, the speedster is only 23.
As much as the league frowns about Larkin and others giving the All-Star experience a “no thanks,” maybe it’s another nudge toward additional tweaks? Personally, I wonder if the league should consider moving the All-Star Game. If it took place at a fun venue before the season, maybe you’d capitalize on fans missing hockey, and players wanting to get back into the groove in a fun way?
Or … maybe the league should just relax? The events are still fun enough, and maybe the NHL should focus on those who want to be there, rather than trying to brute force those who do not?
It’s a shame that Larkin had to walk back comments so benign, but that’s just how this sport is at times.
The 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend takes place on Jan. 24-25 (coverage on NBCSN), and it should be a lot of fun — especially a Skills Competition where Larkin could have been competitive in the speed portion.
WHAT A BEAUTY! #LGRW pic.twitter.com/q5A2hB9FXu
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 11, 2020
(H/T to The Score.)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.