The return to Nashville promises to be very emotional for defenseman Mattias Ekholm, now a member of the Edmonton Oilers, who spent the majority of his career in a Predators uniform.
The 33-year-old Swede will certainly be received with dignity on Tuesday evening by his former supporters, for whom he worked hard for nine and a half seasons. Ekholm is undoubtedly one of the most important backs in the history of the franchise.
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“I’m going to try to stay calm and neutral, but at the same time I want to keep it emotional and special. “I’m sure it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” he told NHL.com on Monday.
“It’s been a big part of my life and my family’s life; two of my three children were born there. I have many good memories of success and failure,” recalled the man who reached the Stanley Cup final in 2017.
This season, the Predators are undergoing a sort of reconstruction or at least a youthful turn. In addition to Ekholm, players like Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene have changed addresses in recent months.
“If you look at their roster, they got rid of several guys that I played with for a long time. There aren’t many left, the 2009 fourth-round pick admitted. But the people who really make a team are the instructors and staff members who are there no matter the circumstances. They are always there to support you and try to make your life as easy as possible.”
McDavid is reassured
One thing is certain, Ekholm is also well surrounded in Edmonton. Thanks to his experience, the Oilers made a little progress in the playoffs and expectations are very high for 2023-2024.
“Since he arrived (in February), he contributes on a lot of levels. In the locker room, he is a leader, a true professional, and he gives his all every day. On the ice, he is a reassuring presence,” explained Connor McDavid at a press briefing on Monday.
We bet that the words of the captain of his new family are quite reassuring for Ekholm.