In the offseason, Arizona Coyotes’ team captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson goes to Sweden to play for his national team, but returns to his Scottsdale home a few times over the summer “to get some sun.”
Ekman-Larsson was named one of three finalists for the National Hockey League’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award goes to an NHL player that exemplifies a clear and measurable positive impact on the community; an investment of time and resources; and a commitment to a particular cause or community. Ekman-Larsson volunteers at Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley and also offers them financial support.
The trophy winner will be announced on Wednesday, June 19 at the 2019 NHL Awards in Las Vegas and will receive a $40,000 donation from the NHL to the charity of the winner’s choice.
We recently caught up with Ekman-Larsson to talk about his commitment to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley.
Q: Why did you pick Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley and what kinds of volunteer work do you do there?
A: I felt like it was a good fit for me. It’s something that I stand for. They do a lot for the kids and they always have their backs. I hang out and play games and watch them do their homework. I’m not a lot of help when it comes to homework, but I’m trying and it’s nice to see them and talk to them a little bit and try to help out. I’ve been donating my suite at the Coyotes games so that they can come and hang out and just have a good time there.
Q: What impact do you have on the kids? They must love it when you show up.
A: I think I love it more than they do. I don’t think they know who I am, to be honest with you, but it’s just cool to see them being happy and being kids and just having a good time. I think that gives me more than what I give them. It makes me feel really good to just put a smile on their faces.
Q: Why is volunteering in the community important to you?
A: I feel like I’m so fortunate to do what I love and make a lot of money doing it and if I can help out the community and give something back, I feel like that’s the right thing to do. That’s the way I (was) raised. As an organization we do a lot of good things in the community. We try to help make Arizona a better place and I feel like we’re doing a really good job with that.
Q: How does it feel to be nominated for this award?
A: I think this is the nicest award you can get or be nominated for. It’s more about me as a person than as a hockey player. I know that I’m going to be able to play hockey for a couple more years, hopefully, but I want people to say when I’m done playing that I’m a good person and a good guy who cared about other people.
Q: What’s the most common question the kids ask you?
A: Have I ever been in a fight? And I always tell them I’m not a fighter, I’m a lover. They probably don’t think I’m cool when I say that.