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Offseason will take Coyotes players around the world

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal with the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The NHL regular season has officially ended and for the Arizona Coyotes that means their players are free to enjoy the offseason.

What does that mean though? After a season that many players would like to forget, or at least forget most of, how do players spend their summers before having to start on another 82-game grind?

Although every player will share some variation of how they will work on their game to improve for next year, they can’t all be only working out.

Here’s how some plan to enjoy and make use of the offseason.

Finnish goalie Antti Raanta will be making the most of his summer to catch up with family after securing a three-year deal with the Coyotes.

“I will spend a little time here with trainers for a few weeks here then go back home,” Raanta said, “spend time with the family and friends. There will be a couple weddings and things like that.”

Raanta is one of five who hail from Europe, and he won’t be the only one taking advantage of the opportunity to visit family back home. One of the longest-tenured Coyotes, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, will also be returning home to play in the Ice Hockey World Championship.

“I’m gonna go back to Sweden on Monday and go and play Worlds,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s gonna be a lot of fun and I feel like I want to get used to playing that time of year.”

And then Ekman-Larsson finished his response with a smirk.

“I think we are going to be back in the playoffs soon and I want my body to get used to that,” he said.

The Coyotes finished their season playing significantly better hockey and over the last 30 games of the season racked up 17 of their 29 wins on the year. If they plan to make it to the playoffs anytime soon, they will be looking at Clayton Keller, who just finished his rookie season, to shoulder the burden on offense.

Keller appears prepared to handle the responsibility. He is only 19, and even though he could be spending his offseason vacationing in places he has never been before, the US-born player will be spending his summer working on his game and being with his family.

“I’m going to spend some time out here and spend some time in Boston with my trainer from school, who I really like,” Keller said. “It will be nice to be home for a little bit and see my family but I don’t have any big vacation trips planned or anything.”

Players in the middle of a regular season don’t have much time for a traditional family lifestyle. Professional athletes are always traveling and practicing and typically have inconsistent schedules.

The offseason allows a few months for the players to spend time with their loved ones. Derek Stepan will be taking his wife to Napa Valley, where they had their honeymoon, this summer while the kids are being “spoiled” by the grandparents in Minnesota.

For the first time since last offseason, the players will be able to relax and take their minds off a sport that demands their attention for the majority of the year.

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