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Larsson back with Oilers, using hockey to ease pain of father's death

Defenseman in Edmonton after funeral, could return to lineup against Islanders

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Adam Larsson believes hockey will be good for him now that the Edmonton Oilers defenseman has rejoined the team following the death of his father, Robert, on Feb. 1.

Robert Larsson was visiting his son in Edmonton when he had a heart attack Jan. 25.

Adam Larsson missed eight games to be with his family in Sweden and returned to the Oilers on Feb. 17. He played seven games when funeral arrangements were pending, then went to Sweden for the funeral, which was Friday, and missed the past two games.

Larsson practiced Monday but was not expected in the lineup against the Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m. ET; SNOL, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV). He's expected to play against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Oilers are 19 points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"Even that little stretch here the last two weeks was good for me," Larsson said. "Obviously, a funeral brings back a lot of emotions and memories, so that was three tough days I had at home. Once again, I think hockey is good for me down the stretch."

Robert Larsson was a defenseman for Skelleftea in Sweden from 1985-95. He was selected by the Kings in the sixth round (No. 112) of the 1988 NHL Draft but never played in the League.

Adam, who played three seasons for Skelleftea before he was selected No. 4 by the New Jersey Devils in the 2011 NHL Draft, said he was much like his father.

"Very similar in a lot of ways," he said. "He was calm, he had some self-distance to himself that carries over to me. He was a funny guy. So he will bring some good memories and positive memories for me and for my family."

Larsson, 25, said he was too young to remember his father's playing career.

"But even until the last day, we talked hockey every single day," he said. "That was a big hole I experienced after my first game (after his death), so that was tough."

Larsson's teammates and coaches were happy to have him back at the rink.

"We respect the fact that he's been emotionally drained for a month now," coach Todd McLellan said. "In fact, I think it affected our team a little bit ... but we're human. The players are human."

Larsson said he hadn't given much thought to how public his profession is, that if he had another job, less attention would have been on him during his grieving.

"But then you probably don't have 24 or 30 people around you every day to help me out," he said. "So that's the positive side in my job. I'm very fortunate to have (them)."

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