A year ago, a neck injury put Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin on the shelf for the remainder of the 2021 NHL season. While surgery wasn't required, Larkin was forced to completely immobilize his neck area.
For the first time since he was a young child, Larkin stayed off his skates for several months. when Larkin eventually was medically cleared to resumed skating, he made quite the discovery. He was awash with a feeling of freshness, encompassed by the sensation of being reinvigorated.
Larkin is of the belief that putting his skates on the shelf for most of the summer led to his best winter on the ice in years.
"Yeah, I do believe that, I really do," Larkin said. "It helped a lot. It was kind of a blessing in
disguise, I guess you could call it."
Back in action, Larkin was quickly dispelling the theory that rest equals rust. Larkin finished as Detroit's leading scorer in 2021-22 with 31-38-69 totals. Those were his best production numbers in four seasons.
“It felt good to get back to the way I know I can play," Larkin said. "I really came into this year and wanted to drive the play and use my skating ability and kind of relax and just play.”
Larkin is convinced that the chance to get away from hockey in turn enabled him to produce his finest season as an NHLer.
"I do think it was," Larkin said. "I felt at times I could take over a game and be a big difference maker. I hadn’t had that feeling in a while. That’s confidence.
"I really prepared as much as I could last year after being injured as well. I felt I was very prepared and had a great summer, did a few different things and it really worked out for me."
While the cause that led Larkin to make this discovery was unfortunate, the end result should serve as a message to every youth hockey parent. If one of the best players in the game today can take some down time off the ice and not only come back strongly, but in fact turn in a dominating game, then it certainly isn't going to hurt your child by giving them a chance away from the ice to perhaps try another sport in the off season.