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Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson named finalist for King Clancy trophy

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is the captain of the Coyotes and one of their most important players, but his efforts off the ice have earned him recognition as one of three finalists in the NHL for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.

He was named last week the Coyotes’ nominee for the award, which is presented annually “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

“It’s huge. That’s probably the nicest award you can get as a hockey player, I would say,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I was a little bit surprised, but I’m so happy to be one of the three finalists.”

Ekman-Larsson joins Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker and New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as the three finalists.

In July after receiving an eight-year contract extension, Ekman-Larsson donated $125,000 to a Boys & Girls Club in Scottsdale and, as he has for several years, purchased suites at Gila River Arena to host kids for games followed by a meet-and-greet.

“I just felt like [the Boys & Girls Club] was a good fit for me to start with and I feel like they do so much good things for the community and helping the kids out,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s nice to know that you have somebody that looks after you when you’re going through a hard time, and I feel like the Boys & Girls Club [does] that with a lot of people and a lot of kids. It’s always nice to have somebody who’s got your back.”

He has also participated in initiatives for mental health awareness, Hockey Fights Cancer, Hockey is For Everyone, and an anti-bullying campaign.

The winner of the trophy will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 19. The winner will receive $40,000 from the NHL to be donated to the charity of that player’s choice.

Per a statement from the league, these are some of the criteria in selecting a winner:

— Clear and measurable positive impact on the community
— Investment of time and resources
— Commitment to a particular cause or community
— Commitment to the League’s community initiatives (Hockey is for Everyone, Hockey Fights Cancer, Future Goals, Learn to Play, NHL Green, etc.)
— Creativity of programming
— Use of influence; engagement of others

The winner is chosen by a committee of league executives that includes commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

The two finalists who are not chosen as the winner will each receive $5,000 for the charity of their choice.

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