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Motivated Wing joins brother and cousins for annual Larkin Hockey School

Rehabbing Svechnikov joins teammate as guest coach

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

WATERFORD, MICH. -- Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin is back in his happy place this week, the place it all started -- Lakeland Arena in Waterford, Mich.

Larkin, his brother, Colin, his cousins, Adam and Ryan, along with some special guest coaches, are in the middle of their fourth annual Larkin Hockey School.

Lakeland Arena is the place where the Larkins all fell in love with the sport of hockey and now they are inspiring local kids to follow in their footsteps.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@LarkinHockey School! #LGRW

"I do love the kids," Larkin said after Monday's morning session. "It's fun for us. They're mouthy, sometimes they don't pay attention and I catch myself maybe getting a little upset and then I just laugh. How could you not? You just take a step back. The kids, they have a mind of their own, you just let them go and be themselves and they all have personalities, they all love hockey - maybe not love listening or skating drills but they definitely love the scrimmaging and being around and lunchtime and being with their buddies."

There are plenty of other things the Larkins could be doing this summer -- training for their own upcoming hockey seasons, seeing the latest movies or just relaxing in the sunshine -- but they make sure they keep their priorities in order.

"It comes from our parents, I think," Larkin said. "They've always said, as much as we get, you have to give back. My dad (Kevin), this hockey school was his idea. He thought it would be a great way for us to give back to Lakeland, which has also given to him. He coached here and our uncle coached here, we all played here and grew up playing here so for us, it's just giving back and being in a place that was so good to us."

Although Larkin did take time Monday to sign autographs for the campers and their siblings and pose for pictures, that is just one small part of his involvement.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Hanging at @LarkinHockey School!

"The biggest thing for me that I think is unique, I'm here all day, I'm on the ice all day with the kids," Larkin said. "It's hard to get to the gym, your feet are sore after the day and you still have to look after yourself. But I think having all of us on the ice, all of us around every day, it's not a celebrity camp, it's being with the kids, getting to know them and learning names and giving them pointers and just spending time with them. I think that definitely separates us and it's something that we enjoy. If I was going to do anything, I wouldn't want to just show up for a picture session and leave our name and our reputation in someone else's hands where we weren't in control."

Andrew Johnesee, 9, is attending Larkin Hockey School for the second time.

Why did he want to come back?

"The fact that I get to meet Dylan Larkin and I get to play with friends and have fun," Johnesee said.

Johnessee said he's learned a lot from his experience with the Larkins at Lakeland Arena.

"Skating on one leg and push-ups on the ice, something I never really do," he said.

Push-ups on the ice?

"If we lose a relay race or something," Johnesee said, laughing.

As for many of the kids attending, Larkin is his inspiration.

"He's nice and it's fun to play with him," Johnesee said. "He's a very good player, that's for starters, and I think when I grow up, I can be the next Dylan Larkin."

SVECHNIKOV AT LHS: On Monday, Larkin's teammate, Evgeny Svechnikov, joined the group as a guest instructor.

"I'm staying with Dylan," Svechnikov said. "I'm staying all summer and I just want to come over and help him out, see what it's like. I like it, I like to be around kids, too. It's fun. He asked me if I want to so of course I said yes."

Because Larkin and Svechnikov are just 22, they still remember being Johnessee's age and learning to play hockey.

"Yeah, this is the best age right now, just do whatever, play and play," Svechnikov said. "Go from off-ice on the ice, skill sessions. It's cool. I hope they enjoy it."

Svechnikov just returned to Detroit after spending a month at home in Russia with his family.

He's still rehabilitating from undergoing ACL reconstruction on his right knee last Oct. 16.

"I took a couple weeks off when I was home and then start work again," Svechnikov said. "It's going well. It's been, like, eight months, eight and a half. Feels uncomfortable at times but it's fine because it takes so long. Hopefully I'll be ready by the camp and go from there."

Svechnikov said he hasn't done too much skating but is otherwise strong from working out the rest of his body.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Evgeny Svechnikov joins in on the action! @LarkinHockey

After the Wings season ended, Svechnikov was able to watch his younger brother, Andrei, compete in the playoffs for the Carolina Hurricanes.

"Amazing experience obviously watching the fans, the team, whole town, and just being in the good weather in the city, It's cool," Svechnikov said. "It was fun to be also with mom and brother, spend a few weeks there. I was doing rehab for two weeks and a half. It was just good experience to watch how they play, too, and take something from them, what it's like, playoff, especially third round. It was big watching my brother, too, helping him out. Having myself there, it was probably helpful for him hopefully. It was fun and also good experience."

YOUNG PROSPECTS IN TOWN: While Larkin and Svechnikov are mentoring the stars of the future, some of the stars of the not-too-distant future will be in town for development camp this week.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Just Announced: 2019 #RedWings Development Camp roster, which will be held at the BELFOR Training Center inside @LCArena_Detroit from June 25 to June 29 ������ #DRWDCMore:

Larkin said he tuned in to some of the draft last weekend.

"I watched the first round," he said. "I think obviously with our position, a big pick and I also wanted to see Jack Hughes go No. 1. Got to know him through the world championships and know his family, roomed with his brother (Quinn) our first year together. Just pretty cool. Obviously our pick, it came out of nowhere, I guess, but you gotta be happy for Moritz (Seider).

"Played against him in Germany. I think he's going to be a great player. He played really well in the exhibition game I played against him in Mannheim, definitely opened my eyes because we knew he was draft-eligible coming in but obviously had never seen him play. I thought he played really well, did not look like an 18-year-old in that game."

Seider's reaction to being taken sixth, higher than projected, was the talk of the draft.

Tweet from @NHL: The reaction says it all. 😳Watch as the @DetroitRedWings pick Moritz Seider with the sixth overall selection in the 2019 #NHLDraft.

"After (Bowen) Byram was picked, I think they mentioned Seider and I was watching with a couple buddies and I said, 'Watch, he's going to go higher than he expects, in the top 10.' I was thrilled. After seeing him play, I really love his game, I think he's got a lot of skill, he moves well, he's a big body and right-handed defensemen, especially big ones that can skate, aren't out there. I'm happy we got him, I think he's going to be a heck of a player."

Because Larkin Hockey School is at the same time as development camp, Larkin probably won't be able to stop by.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Dylan Larkin joins us on Episode 115 of The Red and White Authority to talk @LarkinHockey School, Steve Yzerman, the #NHLDraft and more!Listen/Rate/Subscribe:

But he knows the young kids are going to be pushing to make the team and that is something that motivates him each summer -- that and trying to get the Wings back in contention.

"I feel like I need to get better," Larkin said. "I'm so competitive and these young guys are coming up that are highly skilled, great hands, that are tearing up the leagues they're playing in right now. I love being a No. 1 center or top-line center in the NHL and playing big minutes and I want this city to feel what St. Louis felt in that playoff run -- the excitement from the fans. I actually got to go down to Columbus to watch Zach (Werenski) in Game 3 of the second round and the fans in Columbus, they have that cannon and I couldn't even hear the cannon when they scored a goal, that's how loud it was.

"We need that energy around the city, sports fans in Detroit need it. I think it's a matter of time and I want to be the guy that brings it here. We need to start having these winning seasons and get close."

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