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John Niyo: Red Wings' Derek Lalonde leaning on a 'true' captain in Dylan Larkin

John Niyo, The Detroit News on

Published in Hockey

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — They’ve come a long way already, the new coach and his “true” captain.

When Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman hired Derek Lalonde away from the Tampa Bay Lightning back in late June, one of Lalonde’s first phone calls was to Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s homegrown leader.

And while that line of communication sounds crystal clear now, there apparently was a brief moment of confusion.

“The first conversation, he called me and he said, ‘Hey, this is Newsy,’ and I was like, ‘Uh, who?’” Larkin laughed Thursday, shortly after the Wings wrapped up their first set of training camp practices at Centre Ice Arena.

But as the Wings’ captain quickly discovered, “Newsy” is the nickname Lalonde has carried with him since college, a nod to Hall of Famer Edward “Newsy” Lalonde, the original “Flying Frenchman” with the Montreal Canadiens a century ago. They’re not related, but the nickname is so ingrained by now, Lalonde says, “I think there are some people, to this day, in Tampa that don’t even know who ‘Derek’ is. They only know me as Newsy.”

Now Larkin does, too. Because these two have talked quite a bit over the last 2½ months as Lalonde has gotten settled in his new job as a first-time NHL head coach.

 

Lalonde went so far as to create a spreadsheet for his coaching staff to chart all their summer conversations with the Wings’ players and prospects.

“When we talked to a certain player, what we talked about and why,” he said, offering a glimpse into the new coach’s attention to detail.

'First person on board'

Yet Larkin’s call sheet was a little different, by design.

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