Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Wednesday afternoon made a $125,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs' Virginia G. Piper Branch at Laguna Elementary School in Scottsdale.
Ekman-Larsson, who was flanked by General Manager John Chayka and Team President and CEO Ahron Cohen during the check presentation, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, which serves more than 20,000 youngsters at nine locations within Scottsdale.
"I really feel like this is home," Ekman-Larsson said. "I've been a part of this (BGCGS) for a couple years now and I think that they are doing a really good thing for the community. I want to be a part of making a difference in kids' lives. This is what I'm all about so I'm happy to be part of this ... This is a special day for us. We're trying to do the right thing in the community. We're trying to make a difference in these kids' lives. That's what we stand for as an organization."
Ekman-Larsson remained at the branch after the check presentation and mingled with the staff members and the kids. He also posed for photos and played ball hockey with them.
"Today was a WONDERFUL day for our kids," the BGCGS wrote on its official Facebook page. "Thank you Oliver and the whole Arizona Coyotes family!"
Ekman-Larsson's appearance on Wednesday was his first in Arizona since he signed an eight-year contract extension on July 1.
"My heart is in Arizona and that's why I stayed," the team's marquee defenseman said after signing his new contract.
Chayka said the Coyotes are looking to Ekman-Larsson to provide leadership.
"He's an elite talent, a premiere defenseman, an All-Star both on and off the ice," Chayka said. "I think anytime you're signing someone for what will amount to nine years ... you're signing a player but mainly signing a person. To get a person like Oliver, I think today shows the type of person he is. He's obviously committed to the community and the work he does here. What he means for our young players, and his interactions with our staff, across the board he's special."
Video: Chayka on OEL: Huge for the Club
The BGCGS staff and kids provided a chalk-written message to Ekman-Larsson in his native Swedish on the sidewalk at the club entrance. It read: "Lyckonskan OEL."
The translation? "Congratulations OEL"