At the beginning of February, tragic news shocked the entire National Hockey League when Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson revealed that his father Robert has passed away while visiting his son in Edmonton. He was just 50 years old.
Larsson had taken to Instagram where he shared a picture of a black heart, along with the message: “Dad. I love you. Always have. Always will.”
Following the sad announcement, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli delivered a heartfelt statement for Larsson and his loved ones.
“On behalf of the Oilers Entertainment Group, Oilers management, staff, players and fans, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to Adam and his family on the passing of his father Robert,” Chiarelli said.
At the same time, head coach Todd McLellan had asked media to respect Larsson's privacy and it was announced that the defender would take some time off to deal with his difficult time.
“Adam is dealing with that. It’s affected our room immensely and we will continue to support the Larsson family and you won’t see him here for a little while because we’re going to give him the time he needs to take care of things.”
Robert Larsson played in the Swedish Hockey League between 1986 and 1998. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings 112th overall in the sixth round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.
On Saturday, Larsson was back on the ice with the Oilers for the first time since Jan. 23 against the Buffalo Sabres. He could be in the lineup later today when the Oilers will face the Coyotes in Arizona.
For the first time since the passing of his father, Larsson addressed the media after the morning skate.
“Even through these tough times, I think hockey is the best therapy for me right now,” he said to media after practice. “Being around the guys kind of gets your mind off of everything so I’m glad to be back.
“They have been a tremendous support for me throughout this. Even the management and the organization, everyone from the front office, has been a tremendous support. I’ll be forever thankful for that. Even to let me go home is something I can’t thank them enough for.”
McLellan had not decided on Friday if Larsson would be back in the lineup when the Oilers face the Coyotes in the first game of a two-contest weekend that ends Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers coach admitted that the lengthy flight and an emotional ordeal could still be weighing a lot on his player and would decide today if he will be back.
“We have to wait and see how he feels,” McLellan said Friday. “He’s been through a lot emotionally. He traveled for 12 hours and got in really late.
“He hasn’t been skating much, so we want to make sure he’s put into a situation where he has a chance to succeed. That will be determined by the training staff and Adam himself.”
We can certainly admire Larsson's courage and wish him well for the rest of the season, even if the Oilers aren't in the playoff race this time around.