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I am a marketing major about to start my second year at Northern Michigan University, however, this will be my third year in college. I previously attended a small community college...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

A North Wind exclusive at Red Wings camp

Blood dripped down Jerome Verrier’s face and he moaned in pain as the 21-year-old free agent hockey player was carried off the ice on a stretcher Friday morning at Center Ice Arena in Traverse City during Red Wings training

Almost 75 hockey players attended camp this year, including the Detroit Red Wings, Grand Rapids Griffins players, Red Wings prospects and camp invitees. They started skating at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and just 10 minutes into the first warm-up of camp a mistake in a drill caused a violent collision between Verrier and veteran center Darren Helm.

Helm skated off the ice himself, while Verrier wasn’t able to get off the ground and was carried off by EMTs and team trainers. Both players were taken to the hospital. Helm will be out for a minimum of a two weeks for concussion protocol and a separated shoulder, while Verrier suffered a broken leg, which requires a much more lengthy recovery.

This year the Wings welcomed top prospect Dylan Larkin to training camp, after playing just one year with the University of Michigan Wolverines. Coaches use training camp to look at what each player can bring to the team and see which prospects are ready for the NHL.

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Head coach Jeff Blashill said players fresh from college have a different kind of work to do as they transition out of collegiate hockey.

“Every player is different. They have to utilize their skill set and learn how to separate themselves in pro,” Blashill said. “They might have been a high-end scorer in college, but they might come here and to find out how to be a little bit more of a checker. They just have to find a way to have a real good role within the team and do something better than other people do on the team.”

At 18-year-old Larkin was drafted to the Wings in March and now Blashill said he is one of three prospects that are closest to being NHL ready. While Larkin took Blashill’s comment as a compliment, “closest” isn’t good enough for Larkin.

“The key word there is close. I want to be an NHL player, and NHL ready,” Larkin said. “Not just a player though, a key player and a guy that my team looks to, a dominant player.”

What got Larkin to where he is wasn’t just getting points in the net, but also being a team player.

“Within your team you have to separate yourself by your work ethic, you have to earn the coach’s trust, and you gotta stand out in games,” Larkin said. “I think what you do in practice carries over to the game, and you gotta have fun in college. Not just put up points but help your team and win. Coaches look for winners.”

Veteran left wing/center Henrik Zetterberg is excited to see what Larkin does in the pre-season.

“He has everything, he skates real well, he’s strong, for his age he’s really strong out there,” Zetterberg said. “When he gets his chance he can put the puck away. So it’s going to be fun see him here preseason.”

For a few players this is the first time in 10 years playing under a head coach other than Mike Babcock, and  the veteran players look forward to the new perspective that Blashill will bring to the team.

“Before we knew what was going on, we knew every drill, every meeting. Now it’s different and that’s refreshing,” Zetterberg said. “We have to pay a little more attention, and also it’s a little different—[Blashill] is more competitive, more friendly competition. Obviously none of us want to lose, so it’s going to be competitive but it’s going to be fun.”

Blashill has plans to move players to different positions on the ice, utilizing the all the different skills from each player.  Blashill is looking at trying center Luke Glendening on one of the wings.

Babcock coached a safe game, but Blashill is proving his willingness to take risks to improve his players and their game. Blashill is also thinking of using defenseman Brendan Smith on offense this season as well.

“It gives me a little bit more of a green light to make plays, which is exciting,” Smith said. “It’s something I haven’t done since Grand Rapids.”

“We want Brendan to grow in his reward with less risk, and that will be the biggest thing for him to learn,” Blashill said. “We like efficient defensemen. Efficient means to me lots of positives and very few negatives and that’s going to be the thing that he needs to do.”

Photo’s by AnnMarie Kent

Photos are provided from AnnMarie Kent.

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