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Detroit Red Wings Larkin Compares His Return To Ricky Bobby’s Comeback



Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin compared his comeback from a neck injury to a scene from the Will Ferrell movie Talledega Nights.

Assessing his first time on the since a neck injury halted his season last April, Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin drew a curious parallel. He compared himself to Ricky Bobby, the fictional NASCAR driver protrayed by actor Will Ferrell in the film Talledega Nights.

“The first period was tough,” Larkin was admitting after Sunday’s 5-1 NHL preseason win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. “It was like Ricky Bobby’s first race back after his car crash. I just felt like everything was going fast and, uh, I wasn’t.

“As the second and third started to happen, I felt a little more comfortable. It was nice to be on the good side of some good plays and the power play was clicking. So, I felt good. Nothing happened, but as the game went on, it felt a lot better.”

Larkin wasn’t long in rediscovering NHL pace. He ended up finishing his first NHL action since April 20 with a pair of goals.

“I think my first couple of shifts I had about six or seven turnovers,” Larkin said. “I just figured I might as well do something and I was just waiting to get hit and putting myself in bad spots, holding onto the puck, expecting to get hit. Finally, I just said, ‘I’m gonna go hit someone’ and maybe get a little frustration out, or just to feel some contact.

“I think it got me to settle in a little bit and calm the nerves and start playing hockey.”

Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin Felt The Jitters

For his own peace of mind, Dylan Larkin was actually looking forward to being on the end of some physical punishment. It was reassuring. Feeling contact again was vital. It was playing a role in helping him get past any psychological blocks. Any athlete coming back from a serious injury can often be harboring concerns in the back of their minds during their first game back. Until they engage in the heat of game action, they’re never 100% certain they are past their ailment.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Larkin frankly admitted. “I’m not going to lie to you guys. I was nervous today, I had jitters to play. I was excited. But as I was doing my warmup and on the ice warming up and, when the puck dropped, I was nervous.

“Not to get injured. Just to play hockey. It had been a long road. I couldn’t believe already that much time had gone by and I was playing hockey again. It was good to settle in. As the game went along, I felt more comfortable. I felt like my vision came back and got some touches.

“My hands felt better, my timing, and I hope it continues.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill liked what he saw from his captain.

“I thought as the game went along, he got more and more comfortable,” Blashill said. “I thought he tried to initiate a lot of contact early.

“As the game went along. he was willing to take more contact and that’s ultimately how he’s going to have to play to be successful.”