It is an understatement to say that Oliver Ekman-Larsson has faced his share of personal issues as well as performance issues since his mother’s illness and passing three years ago. While he seemed to heal as well as can be expected, his play has not returned to the level he once showed. Then, there were the endless trade rumours which certainly haunted him. He never really wanted to be traded. He actually likes it in Arizona. OEL didn’t want to leave… it just seemed to drag on until he was forced to set a deadline.
Once the deadline was reached and no trade was transacted between the Arizona Coyotes and the two teams he had said he would accept as a trading partner, relief that it was over had to be satisfying. New general manager Bill Armstrong never got a deal worthy of sending his captain to either the Vancouver Canucks or the Boston Bruins.
What the Aftermath of no Oliver Ekman-Larsson Trade Might be
It seems that once a player is offered up in trade rumours that things can deteriorate in the locker room. That becomes especially true if the player is the captain. A team could either rally around the captain or turn him to the wolves. It especially doesn’t allow other players to feel safe to not be traded. Some player’s contracts are expiring after next season. If their captain, who had a no-trade clause in his contract which doesn’t expire for seven more years is on the trading block, how can anyone feel safe?
This will be a concern of new GM Armstrong. While head coach Rick Tocchet has stated that he and OEL had a good long talk, we don’t know what Tocchet expects out of his captain. If he expects to change Oliver’s personality, that isn’t going to happen. Tocchet was known as a rough and tumble player in his day and more than likely expects his captain to be of that demeanour. That’s just not in OEL’s DNA. He is what he is. Does that mean that Tocchet may want to install a new captain of the team? Perhaps. And from OEL’s perspective that may not be a bad thing. It would allow him to concentrate more on improving his play and less about leading the team.
Craig Morgan, at azcoyotesinsider.com tweeted OEL’s statement about the possibility of being traded.
This is the first time that Oliver Ekman-Larsson has addressed his awkward situation publicly.
I had been told previously that he did not want to discuss it. https://t.co/PelQKk3hHz
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) October 28, 2020
Whether OEL can move on and dispel the fact that he was almost traded is something which will be decided as time transpires. It could affect his play, yet he is a professional and should be able to move on from the trade issues. After all, professional athletes are traded as objects or assets all the time. They also get paid well to do what they do. Yet, they are human beings and have feelings and emotions like others. The fact that your team felt like they wanted to get rid of you has to hurt down deep inside.
Trying to put yourself in OEL’s place wouldn’t be easy. Say your boss came in and told you your services were needed in another location of the company. And you needed to move as soon as possible. It wouldn’t be an easy adjustment, yet it’s done all the time. The fact that professional athletes are paid exorbitant salaries doesn’t alleviate the hardship of moving your family and starting all over again somewhere else any easier.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Has a Challenge
It won’t be easy for OEL to go into the next season. He has expectations from Tocchet along with a team who may lose some respect for him. Once a leader loses respect from his team, it pretty much leads to disaster. Can OEL recover and even improve his play to the point that all the rumours are a distant memory? Of course. Yet, in the back of his head will he feel confident that if he and the team come out flat next season that the rumours won’t begin again? There’s the trade deadline (whenever that may be) which will be a deciding point for the defenceman from Sweden. Will he be so disgusted that he asks to be traded?
It seemed that most who discussed the possibility of OEL being traded mentioned two hurdles. His huge $8.25 million AAV contract along with its length, and his no-trade clause. That clause is something that a player negotiates when they sign a new deal. It is designed to give a player some security in staying in one place for the term of the contract. The player may of course waive that. It’s still uncertain why OEL didn’t do what his buddy from the team and his homeland did. Niklas Hjalmarsson indicated he was invoking his no-trade clause when his name was popping up as a possible trade candidate.
There are still some unanswered questions about the whole scenario of the OEL trade rumours. It’s a certainty that he would like to forget about it and move on… if that’s possible. The entire situation could actually inspire OEL to improve his play and show the team he is worth keeping. He has the ability to do just that. How many times do we see a player who was traded come back and haunt his previous team? The bottom line is all Coyotes’ fans want OEL to be on the team and to help them get back to the playoffs next season. Whether the damage done from trade rumours affects his play is yet to be determined.
For now, Oliver Ekman-Larsson still wears an Arizona Coyotes uniform, and he’s proud of it.