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Oliver Ekman-Larsson leaves Coyotes to be with family following mother’s passing

Arizona Coyote defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), of Sweden, passes the puck as Los Angeles Kings Adrian Kempe (39), of Sweden, defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Hartog)

The Arizona Coyotes have granted defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson a leave of absence from the team following the death of his mother, who had been battling cancer.

OEL will not be with the team over its final three games of the season, as he left Monday to travel back to Sweden to be with his family.

“This has been a very difficult year for me personally,” said Ekman-Larsson in a press release. “I’d like to thank the Coyotes organization and all of my teammates for their incredible support all season long. I’m sorry that I’ll miss our last three games but family comes first.”

One of the cornerstones of the Coyotes’ franchise, Ekman-Larsson finishes the season with 12 goals and 27 assists to go along with 48 PIM. The 39 total points are his lowest total since 2012-13, when he posted 24.

With just a few games remaining, the Coyotes have 67 points, which is the second-worst total in the NHL. They have won two straight, however, and are within striking distance of New Jersey and Vancouver, who have 68 and 69 points, respectively.

Not having Ekman-Larsson on the ice will not help the Coyotes’ cause, but allowing him to leave the team was an easy decision.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Oliver and his family during this very difficult time,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said in the release. “Oliver has done a remarkable job dealing with this issue all season long and we commend him for the professionalism that he’s demonstrated. It’s important that he travels back to Sweden now to be with his family.”


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