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Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson idle in Arizona during coronavirus hiatus

Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Oliver Ekman-Larsson was on a webcam conference with three other Pacific Division captains and asked the group for Netflix recommendations.

“Been a lot of time on the Netflix,” Ekman-Larsson said Friday. “I’ve been watching a lot of Swedish TV shows that came out a couple months ago, so if you guys have any good ones, I would be happy to watch them.”

“Tiger King, you’ve got to watch that,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said.

“Oh my god, that show is nuts,” Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano chimed in.

Vancouver forward Bo Horvat spoke up: “I’ve heard nothing but crazy stuff about that show.”

“I don’t know if I’m up to that,” Ekman-Larsson said, “but I’ll give it a shot.”

That TV suggestions took up time in a conference call with media on Friday says much about where things are with sports and the world at large: idle. The National Hockey League “paused” earlier this moth as coronavirus has all but shut down the world as we know it, leaving players to isolate in their homes with teams having only a dozen or so games left in the regular season.

“I’m in Arizona right now,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I mean after all, I’m doing pretty good. I’d rather be playing hockey right now, but it is what it is and it’s more important that we get this virus better and everybody feeling good and being healthy. So holding up pretty good, but it’s hard to find ways to work out and stuff but it’s good.”

Horvat and his pregnant wife went home to Ontario. All four captains on the video chat were obviously in some sort of personal living quarters, as most people are lately. Each player had been navigating the complexities of staying in shape while at home.

“It’s hard. I think just trying to be moving around a little bit and trying to stay in shape,” Ekman-Larsson said. “But it’s tough. I’ve been running a lot and my trainer dropped a couple things off at the front door so I guess he wanted me to work out and get stronger. But yeah. Been alright. It’s hard when you’re used to working out with the team and your teammates. So it’s different for sure.”

Ekman-Larsson said he and his teammates had kept in touch, but not via the video sessions like he was having that moment with media.

“It’s more group chat and texts,” he said. “So it’s a lot of chirping going on in that group chat, so I’m actually thinking about deleting it because it’s a lot of weird pictures and stuff like that. But it’s a lot of fun. It keeps you busy at the same time and you kind of stay connected.”

Media weren’t given the chance to ask questions live, but instead submitted questions in advance for a moderator to read to the group. That, combined with the fact that it was players from different teams put into one press conference, made the format unsual — and prompted some unusual responses.

At one point, Giordano smirked while bringing up the battles he and Ekman-Larsson had this season, complaining that Ekman-Larsson may have caught him with a hit from behind. McDavid said Ekman-Larsson may have the best stick in the league, and the Coyotes captain ceded that “I feel like you never have the puck when [Horvat’s] on the ice.”

Another creative question amid the coronavirus circumstances: Which teammate would you most and least want to be in quarantine with?

“It’s a tough one. I think I’ve got to go with a Swede here, so I’ve got to go with Niklas Hjalmarsson, if I’ve got to pick one guy to be quarantined with,” Ekman Larsson said. “He’s a good guy and we can watch some Swedish TV shows.

“Least? I’ve got to go with Keller because he can’t cook, he doesn’t talk, he’s only playing Fortnite and I’m not really into that.”

Apart from searching for Netflix shows and staying in shape, Ekman-Larsson said he has been cooking more lately. Really, though, they’d all like to get back to hockey.

“I hope that all the fans out there are safe and healthy,” he said. “Obviously, we wish that we were playing hockey right now, but this is more important that we slow this virus down and get back to living a normal life. We miss you guys.”


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