It’s been a disappointing season for Arizona Coyotes star defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, on the ice, and perhaps now we know one factor that contributed to it: He’s been dealing with a heartbreaking personal issue off the ice.
Coyotes GM John Chayka said on Monday that the team has granted Ekman-Larsson a leave of absence following the death of his mother, Annika Ekman, who had been battling cancer. She was in her earlier 50s when she passed.
Ekman-Larsson traveled back to Sweden to be with his father, brother and family. As the Coyotes only have three games remaining in their season, Ekman-Larsson will not play again for them until 2017-18.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Oliver and his family during this very difficult time,” said Chayka. “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.”
Said Ekman-Larsson: “This has been a very difficult year for me personally. 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.”
Ekman-Larsson and his mother were close. In a 2014 interview with Sportbladet, Annika Ekman joked about her son getting his mother and father matching cars. “He knew that Patric liked the Lamborghini, so he bought one for both of us, an orange. But I mostly drive around in my own car. And the finest gift is that I get to talk to him so often.”
Condolences to Ekman-Larsson and his family.
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS