Yesterday Dan Bickley, columnist for the Arizona Republic, penned an opinion piece urging Shane Doan to leave Phoenix before the fans turn on him. Like he thinks the fans have done to Steve Nash and Justin Upton. The easy thing to do is to dismiss his writings as nothing more than an attempt to get people to talk about his column. Mission accomplished.
The correct thing to do is to analyze his statements and try to understand what he was trying to say. Let’s take the Steve Nash analogy first. First off, it was not the fans who ran off Steve Nash. It is the owner. Robert Sarver.
All year long, it was Steve Nash who said he wanted to come back as long as the owner was committed to winning. Nash is 38 years old and in the final years of his career. As a ball handling point guard who can shoot the lights out, he is an asset to any team. He loves the trainers here who have kept him healthy. He has an adoring fan base. His kids are here. His contract is manageable. At the All-Star break, Nash kept up his statement that he wanted to come back if the owner is committed to winning. News flash, Robert Sarver is not committed to winning. He is committed to slashing payroll and putting a product on the court Donald Sterling would fall in love with. Draft picks and cash. That is what the owner felt Steve Nash was worth. Sarver didn’t have to make the sign and trade with LA. He chose to. Nash, if was only looking out for himself, could have just left. Not get a sign-and-trade so something would come back to PHX. An 11th place finish in the Western Conference is what the Suns can hope to attain. Steve Nash can hold his head high. Save the walk of shame for Robert Sarver.
Justin Upton is a young player that is the piece the D’backs can build around. With the exception of pitching, a solid hitter with speed is essential to team development. Upton is that player. I was at the game on Sunday (the Beat LA chant never gets old) and did not hear one fan say Upton should be traded. Most were in amazement that a team in contention for the division race as well as a wild card would make such a move as trading away its best player. Being booed is not the end of the world and not a sign the fans have given up on you. If they had, the silence would be deafening.
Now onto Shane. You are the heart and soul of this team, this franchise, and hockey in the valley. You have been since Winnipeg decided to draft you with the 7th overall pick in the 1995 draft. Your teammates realized how special you are and the grooming to become Captain began. Of course it didn’t take much. Some people are born leaders. Some people bring out the best in those around them. You are both. I’ve seen youth hockey players at the Ice Den lose their mind when you walked in the front door. My daughter skated over during a drill to tell me you were standing against the glass. Kids on the bench kept trying to dump the puck in the corner where you were standing, just to get a glimpse of you. That is the affect you have on hockey in Arizona.
The soon-to-be owner Greg Jamison knows you are this team. You are a Coyote. Mr. Jamisoin will take care of you. Sign now, play out your contract, and you will have a position with the team as long as you want to be tethered to the Coyotes. At your last contract, you were told if you signed, the team would be competitive. It took a new coach and General Manager to make that happen. To paraphrase Herb Brooks, you were born for this moment. The offers of money are there. Top contending teams who think you are the missing piece will circle. And you are the missing piece. Any team would be lucky to have you. Only one team needs you. Phoenix.
Some players can move about their profession and no one thinks the worst of it. Others, we can only see in one jersey. Daniel Alfredsson in Ottawa. Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh. Gilbert Perrealt in Buffalo. Add to that list Shane Doan in Phoenix. Bickley could not have been more wrong suggesting you come back to Phoenix in a Red Wing jersey. Only one red jersey looks good on you, and the color is Coyote red.
My kids went to Make in Scottsdale today. When told they could create any craft they would like. It was an easy decision.They decided that a cake to show their admiration for Coyote Captain Shane Doan was the only thing they wanted to make.