Over the past dozen or so years, there have been a myriad of changes out in the Arizona desert. Wayne Gretzky came and went as part of the Coyotes ownership group, the team moved to a beautiful new arena in suburban Glendale, and they’ve gone through a handful of jersey designs. Through it all, the one constant has been their captain, Shane Doan.
Winding down his 19th NHL season, Doan, one of the league’s true warriors, is still as friendly and soft-spoken off the ice as he’s ever been. Simultaneously, the mileage and experience that comes with nearly 1,400 games is also manifesting itself via a rather reflective tone.
“Obviously, it’s kind of embarrassing,” the veteran forward told MayorsManor, when asked about the team’s play of late. “As a player, it’s always tough. You never want to be stuck in this situation, but we are and we have to deal with it. The new guys coming in, they’ve played well. We’ve been in games; we just haven’t found ways to win, and that’s the name of it. It’s just disappointing. You just feel bad, we’ve been bad. There’s no way to get around it. We’ve been bad and we have to be better.”
A string of 16 games with only one win is just the latest debacle Doan has had to deal with while never wavering in his commitment to being the face of the franchise. However, amassing a mere 50 points on the season, his Coyotes are among the bottom three teams in the NHL. And a possible No. 1 draft pick for Arizona will hardly provide much solace for the 38-year-old.
He’s had at least two chances to get out, though.
Just a few weeks after the Kings eliminated Doan and the Coyotes in the 2012 Western Conference Final, he found himself an unrestricted free agent and leaving the only organization he’s ever known became a real possibility. There were strong rumors those same L.A. Kings were interested, as well as the Vancouver Canucks.
With the promise of new ownership and better days ahead, he ultimately re-signed in Phoenix and told us he has no regrets how things have played out in the three years since.
“I don’t really view anything like that, really,” explained Doan. “Things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. No one really worries about going back or thinking or wishing that you did something else. I’m pretty grateful and thankful for the opportunity to play in the league. It’s one of those things that if you get doing that too much, you’re going to miss enjoying what you’re doing right now. I still love to play the game; I love to be out there playing and competing. If I get worrying about too many other things, it will take that joy away. I love that.”
More recently, Doan certainly could have asked Coyotes GM Don Maloney to move him at the Trade Deadline; something he claims not to have been interested in.
“It was kind of one of those that we didn’t really talk about it,” he stated. “We were hoping that things kind of went the other way, that some pieces were going to be kept, and when they got moved, obviously that was disappointing… [Keith Yandle] was a tough one for everybody in the room because he was such a big part of our team. It wasn’t just a one-year guy that was at the end of his contract, but a guy that was a deal that they chose to make. That was a tough one.”
Seeing him in Southern California on Monday night provided a simple reminder of the impact Doan has made on the Pacific Division. Overall, he has been more productive against Los Angeles and Anaheim than any other teams in the league. Although he didn’t add to those totals against the Kings this time around, he had produced 77 points (36 goals, 41 assists) in 100 prior career games. Further, his 72 points in 100 games vs. the Ducks are second-best on that list.
“I think they both play an intense game,” said the Arizona captain. “I think the more you play somebody, the more you want to find a way to win. I thrive, usually, off the competitiveness of the game. The more competitive it gets, the more I enjoy the game. Obviously L.A. and Anaheim have been the two premier teams in the league for the last few years. I think that brings out the best in players. I enjoy playing against those guys because of that. That’s a compliment to how good they are and they type of teams that they have. When you play against them, you know you’re going to have to be good. You can’t just kind of wade through that game. It’s going to be a heavy game, it’s going to be fun to play in, and it’s going to be intense. That’s good.”
Skating around Staples Center was probably also a reminder for Doan of the thing he has missed out on most in his career, a Stanley Cup. It was a night precipitated by him lining up for the ceremonial faceoff and shaking hands with Kings captain Dustin Brown, whom he had a rather heated feud with just a few years ago.
“He’s one of the guys I hate playing against,” Doan said, but with a high degree of admiration, as he was about to explain. “If I like playing against somebody, that’s someone you don’t want on your team. But if you hate them, those are the guys you want on your team. Really, the biggest compliment you can give somebody, I think, in hockey is to hate playing against them. I mean that 100%. You don’t want guys on your team that are easy to play against. He’s a guy that you hate because he finds ways to win hockey games and win Stanley Cups. He’s got the right to brag about that and be excited about that and as a player, you’re obviously jealous and there’s an element to that too. You want to find a way to beat him because they’re the standard that everyone else is measured by.”
Interestingly enough, it works both ways. Back in 2012, several Kings’ players told MayorsManor they were very open to the idea of Doan signing in Los Angeles that summer.
“It’s the same thing for me. I would give anything to have them on my team,” he added. “There’s a reason why they win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’re competitive guys that find a way to win. Again, I can’t say it enough, you do not want someone on your team that you like to play against. You want guys that you hate. The more you hate somebody, usually that’s a good thing in hockey because they’re doing their job and they’re getting noticed. There are some special cases, that are just pure skill and unbelievable. But, for the most part, the guys that I admire are the guys that play that way. That’s a special team they have.”
This brings us to the inevitable fork in the road. Any reasonable person wouldn’t expect the Coyotes to be very good next year or perhaps the following season either. Plus, time stands still for no man, and definitely not for a guy turning 39 in October. So, will he be back with the Coyotes next season?
“I really haven’t thought too much about it, going forward,” Doan said. “It’s one of those things – we have 14, 15 games to go. Every game you get to play in the NHL is pretty special. I don’t want to miss those games. I want to make sure I’m focused on them and enjoying the moment that we’re in; not getting caught up worrying about what’s going to happen in the future. When you get there, it will take care of itself.”
It was at that exact moment when a feeling of retirement filled the air. Doan never mentioned the word. He never even hinted at it. He simply smiled, as he saw the light bulb going off in the person’s head sitting across from him.
“I just enjoy playing, I love to play, and I’ll never, ever quit playing,” he said. “I’ll just go somewhere else, where no one is watching.”
3 MUST-READ DOAN ARTICLES:
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com