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Notes: Red Wings roster is brimming with leaders

Yzerman stresses solid compete level a key for team

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

TRAVERSE CITY -- There are plenty of leaders on the Red Wings. Four of them will wear letters but none will wear the 'C,' at least for the time being.

The plan is that Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader will both wear an 'A' all the time but Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening will rotate wearing an 'A' depending if it's on the road or at home.

"I don't think you need to wear a 'C' to be a leader on a hockey team or on any team," executive vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman said Friday at Centre Ice Arena on the first day of training camp. "Not only Dylan, the rest of the guys, we're looking for them all to step forward as leaders on the ice and off the ice and kind of set the tone of the way we're going to play, the way we're going to conduct ourselves. 

"For me, I want to get to know all these guys. A few of the older players I know somewhat from when I left the organization. But it's an opportunity to take the time to get to know everyone and when we eventually do name a captain, I intend that person to be the captain for a long time."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Steve Yzerman address the media following day 1 of Training Camp.Full 📽���: https://t.co/e9kKdndMPu pic.twitter.com/Ma6v7dZP0w

Although the general expectation was that Larkin would be the next captain after wearing an 'A' for the first time last season, Larkin expressed no disappointment in the decision.

"At the end of the day -- or the beginning of the season I should say -- I get to play for the Detroit Red Wings," Larkin said. "In our locker room, I can assure you that leadership is not a problem. I'm extremely happy for Luke. It's well deserved. But you could look at 10 guys that could wear A's on our team and could wear C's. It's not up to me. It's not up to anyone but management and the coaching staff. They know what they're doing. They're in the position that they should be in. I'm not disappointed at all. I get to play hockey. A new season, a new opportunity to prove ourselves. A new manager where we're all looking to impress him and take a step in the right direction for our organization."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "For myself, I don't need a whole lot of extra motivation. I want to win. I want to play well. I want to represent the city, my teammates, the fans and my family as much I can."- Dylan Larkin | #DRWTC pic.twitter.com/YcNXgn97AI

Larkin said he and Yzerman had a conversation a couple of weeks ago.

"It wasn't negative at all," Larkin said. "It was encouraging. We talked a lot about how to be a pro even more, to look at the guys who have led on our team before. What I can do to be an all-around leader. For me, it's exciting to have conversations like that where it's someone who's been through it and someone that's done it very well. Having conversations like that is invaluable to my career and something that I'm excited and grateful for."

Glendening, 30, is entering his seventh season with the Wings and is known for his tremendous work ethic and willingness to play through pain.

"Steve and I talked through the course of the summer and one, I felt I wanted to add Glennie as part of the captain group, I don't want to say leadership group because there are other leaders on the team, but he is somebody I've leaned on a little bit, he's somebody that leads by example unbelievably," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think he's got a bigger voice and I think this will help his voice come out. Obviously losing Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) opened a potential spot there. I didn't have to do it, but I felt like I wanted Glennie to be a part of it.

"And I also think the conversations Steve and I had during the summer, Steve's getting to know these guys and I don't want to speak for him, he spoke I know already, and I think he wanted to be super comfortable with it, well, it's hard to be super comfortable when you're just getting to know people, so this gives him time to get to know people and I think we've got a real good group."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Jeff Blashill address the media following day 1 of Training Camp.Full 📽���: https://t.co/JpCGegmKRE pic.twitter.com/E0ljlpgMAA

EXPECTATIONS FOR TEAM: While pundits may have already written off the Wings as a bottom-five team this upcoming season, that does not mean the players are buying into that.

"It's a new year, a couple of new faces and I think we're all excited to prove people wrong," Tyler Bertuzzi said. "Everyone has us not making the playoffs again and just the path we've been on the last few years, we want to turn things around."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We're excited to get back at it, we're excited to go. We just want to help our team win any way we can."- Tyler Bertuzzi | #DRWTC pic.twitter.com/nSL5hR4v22

Larkin, who is penciled in to start on the top line with Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha, agreed with Bertuzzi.

"This is year two of three where we're pegged to be a bottom five team in the NHL," Larkin said. "To me, that stings a little bit. We believe in our group. For me, I want our team to come out of this camp healthy. Last year was a tough start. We can't start like that this year. For us to come out of this camp healthy as a full team and hit the ground running, hopefully we can turn a lot of heads and shock people."

As for Yzerman, he is thinking big picture when it comes to assessing the team.

"If you're not competitive you're not going to play in the NHL. That's the reality," Yzerman said. "You have to be competitive on the ice, off the ice. That's the inner drive that they have. You have to do that to play in the league. For the team, our ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup at some point. We want to show improvement in our record. Every year you're trying to improve.

"But as we sit here in September, we'll watch the team in October and throughout the entire season, I'm looking at that as we got players that are going to be 20 years old, 19 years old, we got guys that are 35. 36, all at different stages. Are they helping us? Are they making us a better team? Ultimately, part of being a good player is being real competitive."

KASKI COULD BE FIRST: The Wings signed Finnish defenseman Oliwer Kaski as a free agent on May 28, to a one-year, entry-level contract.

On Friday, he skated with the team for the first time and afterward explained why he chose Detroit.

"I feel like they really wanted me here and I really liked that," Kaski said. "They really understood my style of game. At the end it was an easy decision to make."

Blashill is looking forward to seeing how Kaski's game translates to the NHL.

"(Oliwer) Kaski is one of those guys (associate director of player personnel) Jiri Fischer had me watch on tape before we got him," Blashill said. "He's got some real weapons and I got to see him play at the World Championships and he can really shoot it and he has a real good offensive mind."

Kaski considers himself to be more of an offensive defenseman. The numbers bear that out as last season while playing for the Lahti Pelicans in Finland's SM-Liiga, Kaski had 19 goals and 32 assists in 59 games.

That ranks as the third highest-scoring season by a defenseman in SM-Liiga history, behind Pekka Rautakallio's 53 points (25-28-53) in 1978-79 and Brian Rafalski's 53 points (19-34-53) in 1998-99.

So it's no surprise that Kaski watches NHL defensemen who are known for their offensive abilities.

"I just like to watch the more offensive guys like (John) Klingberg, (Erik) Karlsson, (Victor) Hedman, (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson, how they play," Kaski said. "(Miro) Heiskanen's pretty good, too. I like how they make plays but still are good defensively too, good two-way defensemen."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "Just work hard and battle and show that I really want it. Play my game and make plays, shoot the puck. That's why they wanted me here, so I gotta do that."- Oliwer Kaski | #DRWTC pic.twitter.com/LVH8BhSs2w

Kaski is not a stranger to Michigan as he spent the 2015-16 season and one game the following season at Western Michigan.

"I was in Michigan for almost two years, so it kind of helps," Kaski said. "I got used to it. I know what the game is a little bit. I think I liked the small rink. It fits for me, my game style."

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Oliwer Kaski at #DRWTC. pic.twitter.com/ySMzIVsnsD

Although he hasn't seen him too much except for the world championships, fellow Finn and returning Wing Valtteri Filppula has gotten to know Kaski a little.

"In Finland when we started skating we skated together," Filppula said. "I think he has a lot of skill. He can make plays. He can shoot. I feel like I'm saying the same thing about a lot of players. I think now everybody skates well. They have a lot of skill and they can make plays. I'm really excited to see how camp goes for him. "

FINE FIRST DAY: The first day of training camp appeared to go without any major hitches.

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: Hockey. Is. BACK ������ pic.twitter.com/lndqPjN4pN

"I thought that all three practices have been very good," Yzerman said. "The drills were very good, Jeff is very well-organized and they worked very hard. So it's a great start to the week."

Blashill was also pleased with the way things went.

Tweet from @Dwakiji: #RedWings Cholowski and Ehn in battle drill. #DRWTC pic.twitter.com/0rgHDv2CQs

"I thought our guys came to work," Blashill said. "I didn't think we were executing great in those couple instances (they did lateral laps), so my job is to make them know that and they need to correct it and I thought they did a great job correcting it. But I thought they came to work and were super hard. You don't hear any mumbling or complaining. Our guys want to work. They want to be a way better hockey team.

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