In a move most everyone who follows the Arizona Coyotes, the team announced none too soon that Oliver Ekman-Larsson would become the fourth team captain replacing the retired Shane Doan in that important role.
The team went without a captain last season after new head coach Rick Tocchet decided to wait to name his new captain. Instead, the team rotated assistant captains throughout the season.
The only other real candidate may have been Derek Stepan whose on and off ice leadership was evident since he joined the team last summer in a trade with the New York Rangers.
Stepan is still a new member of the team and since OEL is going into his ninth season since being drafted by the team in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft as the sixth overall pick, he was the obvious choice to lead the team.
The NHL's Instagram account announced it this way.
Tocchet is behind his new captain
"Oliver really stepped up last season and proved to me that he's an excellent leader," said Tocchet. "He's an elite defenseman and I love the way that he battles and competes each game. He's got great character and his teammates respect him. He'll be a great captain for us and I'm very happy for O. He's earned this."
Ekman-Larsson was with the Coyotes and helped them to the 2012 Western Conference Final and is a two-time NHL All-Star (2018, 2015). The 27-year-old native of Karlskrona, Sweden has registered 102 goals, 188 assists good for 290 points and has 360 penalty minutes (PIM) in 576 career games with the Coyotes.
He's paid his dues and now it's HIS TEAM.
OEL holds the NHL record for most game-winning goals (GWG) in a season by a defenseman with eight during the 2015/16 season. He also has had 36 power-play goals since 2014, leading all NHL defensemen.
If Oliver is on the power-play the team has a much better shot at scoring. His game-winning goals also demonstrate he is the "go-to" guy when the team needs to score in a game.
There's not another player who you can trust to give you a shot at winning besides Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Can OEL's leadership catapult this team to the playoffs?
We will soon find out as training camp for the Coyotes begins today with the players getting physicals and player photos being taken.
Tomorrow all the fun begins and this writer will be there to report the action from the Coyotes' training camp.
The first order of business then for newly appointed captain Ekman-Larsson is to get all these guys on the same page... and that page is called the WINNING PAGE!
All OEL needs to do is lead by example as his predecessor Shane Doan did. It won't be easy to replace Doan but OEL will have his own leadership style and the team needs to take notice that winning is the objective.
MAKING THE PLAYOFFS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!
What kind of captain do you feel Oliver Ekman-Larsson will be? Was he your choice to fill this role? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to give us a follow on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!