NASHVILLE – Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin crossed one skate over the other and pushed his blades deeply into the ice at the All-Star skills competition’s fastest skater segment.
The amount of force Larkin used was so powerful and his speed so great that he almost wiped out and lost in his pursuit of Mike Gartner’s timing record for one lap around the outside portion of a hockey rink.
“Yeah I was, I dug in pretty hard and it could have been bad. It would have been my last All-Star Game if I kept going. Luckily I caught my footing,” Larkin said.
Even with the mishap, Larkin recovered and bested Gartner’s mark of 13.386 seconds, set in 1996. Larkin, a rookie, burned around the ice at Bridgestone Arena with a time of 13.172 seconds. He won the right to pursue Gartner’s record by breezing around the ice with a heat time of 12.894 seconds on a shorter course. The next-closest was Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi who held a time of 13.527 seconds.
Here is a list of winners of the event since 1992, noting a format changed in 2008. Larkin’s time was listed as quicker than Hall of Fame speedsters like Sergei Fedorov (Best time of 13.525 seconds in 1994) and Scott Niedermayer (Top time of 13.560 seconds in 1998).
“The first competition there when he was doing half the rink and he was making that look pretty easy and flying around pretty good I thought there may be a chance he could be the one if he won it all that he could be the one to break the (famous) record," said New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. "So I think guys were excited to be there in person to see the record broken.”
The 19-year-old Larkin was born after the 1996 NHL All-Star Game. That took place on Jan. 20, 1996. Larkin’s birthday is July 30, 1996. He had known somewhat about Gartner, who scored 708 goals in his NHL career, but a lot of his teammates this weekend were aware they were watching some form of All-Star Game history.
“I think everybody’s pretty aware that fastest skater is a pretty well respected one in the skills competition,” McDonagh said. “It seems like the guys were pretty excited to see and be up close live to see the record be broken. The kid continues to impress.”
This was not really an ‘arrival’ moment for Larkin. He had six points in his first five games and has continued to impress this season with 33 points – third most amongst rookies this year. He’s also a plus-24.
“I played against him a couple of times this year and he’s going to be a star in this league for a long time,” said Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. “I think now on this type of stage everybody who knows hockey now who has been watching knows who he is and congratulations to him. That’s been a long-standing record, so I’m happy for him.”
Larkin isn’t in Nashville just to party. He’s here to pick the brains of some of his fellow All-Stars. While this weekend is a celebration for a lot of athletes, Larkin says he’s partially using it to get better. It’s this type of attitude that sets him apart. He’s been compared to former Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman and Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews for his seriousness to his craft.
“I think it’s a fun thing, a celebration of how with how my year is going, I think to kick back relax, meet the guys, learn as much as I can and have as much fun as I can. It’s a no-pressure fun weekend,” Larkin said. “I know who I am. I know the player I am and the player I want to be. It’s a player like Jonathan Toews and a player like Steve Yzerman. I think it’s cool, but you can’t call it a career with people just saying that.”
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