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Coyotes name Ekman-Larsson, Hjalmarsson alternate captains

(AP Photo/Richard Hartog, File)

The Arizona Coyotes and head coach Rick Tocchet announced Wednesday that defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson will serve as alternate captains to begin the 2017-18 season, and three players will rotate in and out of that title.

Centers Derek Stepan and Brad Richardson, plus defenseman Alex Goligoski will have that leadership role on a game-to-game basis.

“This is a great opportunity for Oliver, Nik, Derek, Brad and Alex to step up and demonstrate their leadership abilities,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said in a statement. “We need everyone in our room to lead but these five players are all great people and have the necessary NHL experience to collectively guide our team. I’m excited for them and the challenge ahead.”

Arizona will label its leaders by tagging the alternate captains’ jerseys with an “A” as the franchise moves past a 14-year era in which captain Shane Doan donned the “C.”

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Ekman-Larsson was an easy choice. In 2015-16, the 2015 All-Star became the NHL record-holder for most game-winning goals (eight) in a season by a defenseman.

Hjalmarrson, Richardson and Goligoski all have won Stanley Cups, while Stepan led the New York Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

“After numerous discussions and thorough evaluation during training camp, Rick and I have decided that it’s best to go with five alternate captains to start the season,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka. “With a new head coach and several new players joining the organization, this will be a transition year as far as leadership is concerned.

“Fortunately, we have a very strong leadership group in our dressing room and collectively, we’re confident that these players will do an excellent job leading our team on and off the ice.”

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