Immigration issue keeps Oliver Ekman-Larsson from first day of camp, and GM Don Maloney isn't happy about it.
By CRAIG MORGAN FS Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Coyotes defenseman
Oliver Ekman-Larsson was the only player who missed the first official day of training camp on Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena. Neither general manager Don Maloney nor coach Dave Tippett were satisfied with the reason.
“Oliver has an immigration issue, and we’re just waiting for him to get his visa back -- hopefully sooner rather than later,” Maloney said. “I’m not happy about it. It’s something that a player is required to take care of.
“Somewhere along the line the communication fell and he was a little lax in getting after it. We have a few things we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Maloney did not elaborate on whether Ekman-Larsson might face a fine or some other form of punishment.
The Coyotes aren’t concerned about what shape OEL might be in, “but when 57 guys are here ready to go and he’s not, that doesn’t sit very well with me,” Maloney said.
Rookie forward Lucas Lessio was wearing a walking boot on his right foot Wednesday after taking a Chris Brown shot off the foot in rookie camp on Tuesday.
“He finished the practice and he was fine,” coach Dave Tippett said. “I actually met with him and did some video with him yesterday and he never mentioned a word about it.
“Hopefully, it’s not bad. He was arguably the best forward in the three days we had here.”
Lessio was playing well with Oshawa (OHL) before wrist surgery sidelined him last season. He is one of three forwards getting a long look as a potential top-six wing. The others are Max Domi and Chris Brown.
SIGN OF CHANGE
New owner George Gosbee addressed the team Wednesday morning and all Tippett could think, after four years of ownership uncertainty was: “That was different."
With the NHL agreeing to send players to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (Feb. 7-23) this year, players are facing a long trek from North America. The NHL's Olympic break will take place from Feb. 8-26 to coincide with the Olympic hockey schedule.
In 2010, the NHL took a 14-day break for the Vancouver Olympics, but the extra time will be necessary, given the length of the tournament and trip. And even that may not be enough.
"It will be interesting,” said Coyotes wing Radim Vrbata, who is from the Czech Republic. “Four years ago was in Canada so adjusting to that time change wasn't hard. The time change to Russia will definitely have an effect on players going over and then coming back.
“The Olympics in Vancouver were on NHL-sized ice, too, so it will be a change playing on the bigger, Olympic ice. It’s like a totally different sport. It’s going to be challenging, but if I’m selected it will still be an honor to be chosen among the greatest players in the world.”
The Czech Republic has not yet announced its Olympic camp roster.
The Coyotes assigned goalie Marek Langhamer to his junior club, the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, and goalie Chris Rawlings, winger Adam Antkowiak and defenseman Justin Weller to the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Portland.
Defenseman Nathan Chiarlitti and winger Taylor Burke were released from amateur tryouts. All the other rookie camp attendees will remain for regular training camp.
The Coyotes are expected to announce a change in their radio partnership on Thursday. The Coyotes Radio Network had consisted of Flagship station XTRA Sports 910 (now Fox Sports 910) and eight affiliates in Arizona and parts of New Mexico.