Oliver Ekman-Larsson wants to play “until they carry me off the ice”

Can OEL play as long as Hall of Famer Chris Chelios?

Michael W.

Fresh off winning his first career Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers, veteran defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson signed a free-agent contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll be bringing valuable championship experience to a team starved for postseason success, having only qualified past Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2004. 

For the 32-year old defenseman, he explained that he feels better than he did in his twenties, something that will certainly bode well for the start of his tenure with his new team. And as far as how long he plans on continuing to play, don't be surprised to see him attempt go to the route of legendary Hall of Fame blue liner Chris Chelios, who played well into his forties.

“I want to play until I’m super-old and they carry me off the ice,” Ekman-Larsson said during his media availability with the Leafs while at his offseason home in his native Sweden. “I don’t really look at the age. I feel a lot better than what I did when I was 25, to be honest with you, body-wise.

“I feel like I’ve been putting in a lot of work the last couple years to get better,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to, that’s how I feel, and that’s what I’m gonna keep doing to get better. I want to play for a long time, so I feel like I can do that.”

For Ekman-Larsson, who was the captain of the Arizona Coyotes before being traded to the Canucks, he was dealt a blow when the last four years of his deal was eventually bought out, something that no player wants to have to go through.

“It’s obviously hard to get bought out,” he said. “Just knowing that they want to make changes and they want to go in a different direction, so pretty much getting fired.”

His contract with the Leafs is a four-year pact that carries an AAV of $3.5 million. 

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