It has been a tumultuous offseason here in Coyote land as we wonder if we are going to lose our Captain. The bond a team has to its Captain is special. No other sport relies on their Captain as much as hockey. And in Phoenix, the bond to our Captain is unlike any other.
He, and equipment manager Stan Wilson, are the last remaining vestiges of the original Winnipeg Jets. Shane is the longest serving Captain in Coyote history. The day he retires, his name will go on the Ring of Honor inside Jobing.com. It is only fitting the Ring of Honor is across from the player bench, visible for all to see. Let future players see the name Shane Doan. The one we call Captain Coyote. The man who won the Masterson Trophy two years ago. The player who won the Messier Award for Leadership this past season. And the grateful Captain who made sure he shook everyone’s hand who came to greet the team at the airport when the team clinched their first Pacific Division title this season.
The Doan name is famous in his hometown of Halkirk, Alberta. His family is known for producing rodeo champions. Shane will say he was not tough enough to do rodeo, so he became a hockey player. His father runs the Circle Square Ranch and is where he first met Coyote broadcaster and former player Tyson Nash. The Circle Square Ranch is a Christian Summer Ranch that fostered Shane’s love of horses and forged his deep faith.
His career blossomed with the Kamloop Blazers and their Memorial Cup and the Stanford Smythe Memorial Cup win in his first season in 1995. Shane played on the team with Tyson Nash as well as Jarome Iginla. He was named the tournament MVP, which was foreshadowing to his future playoff production as well as a great opportunity for showcasing his talents to the NHL. Selected seventh by the Winnipeg Jets in 1995, he played 74 games his first season in the NHL. He put up 7 goals and 10 assists to go along with 101 penalty minutes. The season ended with the team and fans knowing they were relocating to Phoenix. Shane talks about seeing fans in the stands just crying as the team said a final goodbye after losing in the playoffs and how this affected not just the players but their families as well. Saying goodbye to friends, your children not understanding why the team is leaving. This has been the forefront of his mind the last three years as the Coyotes have been in bankruptcy and then bought by the NHL. He has seen suitors (Matthew Hulsizer) get so far in the buying mode he was having dinner with the team in Chicago. Shane has heard the rumors planted by Toronto media hours before a playoff series was to start against Detroit. He put off signing his final contract last summer because he wanted to know who would be the owners and where would the team be located. He is still waiting. And now he is an unrestricted free agent with multiple teams vying for his service.
During the 1997-1998 season, Shane was not playing to his potential. During a road trip in Florida and after a game against the Florida Panthers, the team bus pulled over and the equipment managers removed Shane’s gear bag. The coaches told him they were sending him down to the AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons for some additional playing time. The Falcons just happened to be in South Florida, so it was convenient. Shane called this the biggest shock and stunning move he had faced. With his confidence shot and full of self doubt, he sought the solace of his wife and his faith. Her support and the words from his teammates were enough to get him through this patch. In 39 games with Springfield, Shane scored 21 goals and 21 assists. He was recalled by parent Phoenix and played six playoff games in which he scored one goal. It was the only time he was sent down in his career.
The time in Springfield gave him insight into the mind and pysche of a professional athlete and how to deal with adversity. When current players like Mikkel Boedker were sent to the AHL, it was Shane who sought them out and explained how it can help their career. How getting the playing time and working on your skill will get you back to the NHL. How this is actually better than a press box view to be on the ice and dominating. Rather than be bitter, Captain Coyote learned how to use this to his advantage to become a better mentor.
In 1999, Shane played for Team Canada with their fourth place finish in Norway at the World Championships. Four years later, he won gold in Finland. In 2004 at the World Cup, he scored the game winning goal to earn a second gold medal. In 2005, he as Alternate Captain as Team Canada won silver at the World Championships. 2007 saw his promotion to Captain as Team Canada cruised to gold. Shane got an international hat trick in 6 minutes and 25 seconds during a qualifying round win over Belarius. He remained team Captain for 2008 as the team won silver, losing to Russia. Shane was unable to play internationally the next three seasons as the Coyotes made the playoffs.
At 6’2″ and 228 lbs, Shane is an intimidating figure on the ice. He possesses a gangster like knee-drop snipe from the left side on the power play that produced multiple game winner this past season. This season also provided a first for Shane. On January 7th, at home against the New York Islanders, Shane scored his first NHL hat trick. He had 38 two goal games previously. Pushing his body up the ice knowing the Wizard Ray Whitney would get him the puck, he unleashed a slapper from the left side that trickled through the pads. With 0.1 seconds left on the clock. As he glided backwards into the boards, the look of relief and joy on his face is one that will not be forgotten in Phoenix.
That look on his face was far different in the 2010 playoffs against the Red Wings. After punishing the Red Wings for two games with body crushing checks, he skated in toward goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard came out to play the puck to the right side of the net and dove onto the ice, perpendicular to the goal mouth. Shane could have run over Howard without a penalty. Instead, he tried to dive over him. There was no room as he landed and immediately hit the boards with his shoulder. Shane got up, tried to straighten his helmet, and that is when he knew it was bad. Without changing facial expressions, he skated off the ice and collapsed in the tunnel. Grade 4 separation. It would keep him out of the rest of the playoffs. After 6 straight seasons of missing the playoffs and being the 4th seed, it was over.
2011 saw Shane lead the team in goals and points. He led the team into the playoffs, where the distractions of lack of ownership led to a second straight playoff loss to the Red Wings. Shane led the Coyotes with 3 goals and 2 assists in the 4 game loss. 12 straight seasons of 20 or more goals have led to a career number of 318 and 470 assists for 788 total points. Add 8 goals and 6 assists the past two seasons in the playoffs, and you have a complete player.
While his friends will always say he is a leader, he had some great mentors along with way. Immediately prior to wearing the “C” in Phoenix, it was worn by Teppo Numminen. Other influential Coyotes include; Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, and Rick Tocchet.
If you ask Shane what makes him happy, it will be his faith, his family, his ranch in Scottsdale named Ice Barns. But holding a special place in his life is his charity work. He is relentless in his support for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, mens health causes, and Children’s First Academy, a school for homeless children.
The Coyote faithful pray that Mr. Greg Jamison can purchase the Coyotes from the NHL and immediately sign Shane to a contract that will guarantee the only jersey he will wear will be Coyote red. He is the heart and soul of this team, this franchise, and this city. No one gives more on the ice or off. Not one player in Phoenix will have the legacy of Shane with the exception of Pat Tillman. No one is needed more by Phoenix than Shane Doan.