It’s been a yearlong wait, but the Coyotes finally named Oliver Ekman-Larsson their captain. Ekman-Larsson, the longest active member on the team, joins Keith Tkachuk, Teppo Numminen and former teammate Shane Doan as their captain.
The defenseman was drafted sixth overall in 2009 back when they were known as the Phoenix Coyotes. His total 576 games with the franchise include 46 power play goals and 28 game-winning goals (eighth in Jets/Coyotes franchise history).
He’s also the only member on the team to play in the playoffs with Arizona and his 16 playoff games in 2012 were during the best finish in franchise history. At 20 years old, he was on a first-place team that lost in the Conference Finals, and now at 27 years old, he is trying to head the young team back in that right direction. His eight-year contract extension signed this summer showed that he believes in this team, and it also made the move of captaincy more likely.
Not only are statistics part of why he deserves this position, but his work outside of hockey is important to the organization as well. One of the organizations closest to him is the Boys & Girls Club, which received a $125,000 donation days after he signed his extension. In addition to that, he donates tickets to his suite to charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Arizona Burn Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project and Best Buddies.
Today, as a token of his commitment to the #Yotes and to the Valley community, he presented the organization with a donation of $125,000. pic.twitter.com/UiENX3L7xp
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 11, 2018
Filling the void left by former captain Shane Doan is not easy, but Ekman-Larsson is the right person for that because he has played with him the longest. His leadership ability was on display last season when he correctly addressed his minus-28 rating. Through adversity, his relationships with his teammates and new coach Rick Tocchet grew even more. Their strong finish to the 2017-18 season is evidence of that.
With all the past issues that surrounded the Coyotes franchise (relocation rumors, bankruptcy that led to the sale of the team, arena plans falling through, last place finishes, etc.), Ekman-Larsson never bought into that and continued to play for the team. He had the chance to leave the team after this season when he became a free agent, but he chose to stay this summer. That showed that he fully accepts his role as the face of the franchise and will continue his efforts to make the team known across the league.
There's no better guy for the job.
Just ask the guy who did the job better than anyone.
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