It’s not often that you find a 6-5 defenseman with a right-handed shot blasting shots from the blueline. And it’s even more seldom that a player of this nature has an Italian passport. But both of these things are true in the case of Columbus Blue Jackets’ 2009 fifth round pick, Thomas Larkin.
With much on the line at the 2012 World Championships, Thomas Larkin and his teammates are doing all they can to position themselves for the 2014 Winter Olympics qualification round. With a 4-3 overtime victory against Denmark, the team has already been responsible for the tournament’s biggest upset to date.
Larkin answered a few questions for Hockey’s Future after the team’s opening day loss to Team Germany.
Hockey’s Future: I believe this is your first World Championship appearance
Thomas Larkin: It’s my first one in the top division. I represented Italy at the lower division tournament last spring.
HF: You opened this tournament with a tough 3-0 loss to Germany today. What was your take on the game?
TL: It was a tough game. I think we came out little soft, but started to feel well at the end there. By the time we figured things out, it was already too late.
HF: Do you find it difficult going from Colgate to the bigger European ice surfaces?
TL: It’s definitely a big change, especially playing defense against faster forwards, but it’s going well. We just had training camp for three weeks, so I’ve had some time to get used to it.
HF: What do you think this tournament will mean for you, perhaps even in the eyes of some NHL scouts who will be viewing events here?
TL: This tournament is really one of the best in the world and it’s a big step up for me going from playing college hockey to facing players from leagues like the NHL, AHL and KHL. You know, I just really hope to learn as much as I can this week and step my game up.
HF: Are you looking forward to playing against some of the stars playing for teams like Sweden and Russia?
TL: That’s definitely a factor, you know. Playing against players you’ve been watching on TV throughout the winter is really quite special. Nonetheless, I’ve got to try to keep that out of my mind and we’re going to try to sneak up on a few teams here and win a couple of games.
HF: There are a lot of guys on this Italian team who are originally from North America. What is your connection to the country? How is it you’re here playing for the “Azzurri”?
TL: Oh, I grew up there. My mother is Italian and I grew up in a town not far from Milan until I was 14. We then moved to the States. My dad is American, so I’m half and half, but I grew up in Italy and then moved to the States after that.