Ekman-Larsson to miss rest of season following mother’s death

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will miss the final three games of the season after the death of his mother, Annika, following a long battle with cancer.

Ekman-Larsson was granted a leave of absence by the team and was scheduled to travel to Sweden on Monday to be with his father, brother and other family members.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Oliver and his family during this very difficult time,” said general manager John 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.”

Ekman-Larsson, 25, has played in all 79 games this season, recording 12 goals and 27 assists. He assisted on both of the Coyotes’ goals in Sunday night’s 2-1 win over Los Angeles. His 39 points are second on the team to Radim Vrbata’s 53, and he leads the team in time on ice (24 minutes and 37 seconds per game).

“This has been a very difficult year for me personally,” Ekman-Larsson said in a statement released by the team. “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.”