There’s no player in the NHL quite like Shane Doan, and there’s a good chance we’ll never see one like him again.
Doan will be entering his 21st season in 2016-17 on a one-year, $5 million contract with the only franchise he’s ever known, the Arizona Coyotes. Doan was drafted by the original Winnipeg Jets 7th overall in 1995, fresh off winning his second of two Memorial Cups with a stacked Kamloops Blazers team. After Shane’s rookie season in 1995-96 the Jets packed up and headed to Phoenix to become the Coyotes. The Halkirk, Alberta native has found a lifelong home in the Arizona desert, proven by his years of dedicated service to the Coyotes and the Scottsdale horse ranch his family owns.
In the world of professional sports, trades and team changes come with the job; players rarely stay with a team for long. It was clear from the beginning that Doan had no intention of going anywhere else, and that resigning him was a no-brainer for rookie Coyotes general manager John Chayka. Doan is part of a select few that have played a full career for one franchise, tallying 945 points in 1466 games with the Jets/Coyotes club. He’s seen the team through a relocation, three different arenas, nine playoff appearances, and a bankruptcy saga that lasted five years. The only item missing for Doan is a Stanley Cup Final appearance, something he wants to achieve in Arizona.
With the Coyotes in the middle of a retool on the ice, having a leader like Shane is a key asset to setting a winning tone in the locker room. The next wave of young talent including Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Dylan Strome will look to Doan as the prime example of how a star player should carry himself on and off the ice, while management will use him to bridge the gap between the players and the front office. Head coach Dave Tippett will have a lot on his plate this year, but having a captain like Doan will make the transition easier.
It’s very likely that we’re nearing the end of Doan’s career, and it’ll be a sad day for the the Coyotes and the NHL when that day comes. No one has represented the league in the southern states better than Shane, and the accolades will come once his time on the ice has finished. But if there’s one legacy Doan will leave behind once he retires, it’s his loyalty. Players in hockey and other professional sports could all take a page out of Shane’s book; sometimes it shouldn’t be all about the money, but about building a winner with a team that wanted them from the very beginning.
The Coyotes have been through some incredibly hard times, and Doan could’ve packed up and played in another city for far more money on a number of occasions. But he’s stayed through the thick and the thin, and hopefully before he’s finished he’ll be rewarded with a championship. If you get an opportunity to see Shane in action with the Coyotes, take it; you’ll always notice him when he’s on the ice, and you’ll definitely notice when he’s gone.