Seeing Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, and now Kevin Youkilis jump ship for more money. Steve Nash claiming loyalty than donning the Gold and Purple for our hated rivals in LA. Loyalty has become a distance memory. Something we will tell our kids about “In the old days….”
Enter Shane Doan. Drafted by Winnipeg in the first round, seventh overall, in the 1995 draft. He was the Jets’ final first-round pick to play in the NHL prior to the franchise moving to Phoenix. He tallied 17 points in his rookie season with the Jets. Perhaps Doan’s most memorable moment, as a Jet, was his seventh and final goal. It came on April 12th, 1996 during the teams last regular season home game against the LA Kings. He scored the game-winning goal in the second period for Winnipeg to make the score 4-2, the game would finish 5-3, and the win clinched a playoff spot for the Jets. In the playoffs, the Jets were matched up against the first seeded Red Wings and lost in six games.
In 1997, the Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes after relocation. Doan was given the Captain C in 2003. He has led this team on and off the ice. Many times he has been in position to test the market or go somewhere else for more money. In recent years, he was the last burning ember in a dying franchise. Little hope seemed left for the Coyotes or Doan to stay in the desert. Last season with ownership still in doubt it seemed only a matter of time until ESPN reported Doan had signed elsewhere for well into the 30 million range for several years. Here in the valley fans sat with bated breath. We hadn’t had much luck as of late. Still rubbing our eyes looking at the screenshots of Nash in a Lakers jersey. Knowing soon we may see Doan in another sweater. Maybe even a dreaded rival.
The lockout did little to help the situation for the Coyotes. Ownership stuck in the mud and no clear sign Jamison had made any progress. Doan and his agent were in a oddly unfamiliar situation. Where else to play other than Phoenix. Pretty sure the agent was pushing for best deal possible including a huge offer from the Philadelphia Flyers. Shane’s unwaivering loyalty was at the point where even Superman would of turned in his cape. Conversations went nowhere. Shane and his agent publicly announced their timetable and deadlines that came and went with no signing in sight. Doan and his people had one huge sticking point. Progress in ownership.
Many years came and went for Doan. Finally having his team competitive on a consistent basis, he always had to deal with the rumors and whispers. If you listened closely you could hear Canada whispering in the white noise surrounding the White Out. No matter how much success or direction the team was in there was always a black cloud looming. For so long it was the hated Dead Wings. I meant to say Red Wings but my honesty as a journalist vexes me to the point of admitting I really meant to say Dead Wings. They kept our Coyotes in first round purgatory.
Nothing had changed but the names on the jerseys. Numminen, Tkachuck, Roenick, Gartner, and Khabibulin became Doan, Yandle, Hanzal, Vrbata, and Smith. Neither club could get past the hated Detroit team who tosses Octopi onto the ice. Ahh if I had a dollar for each “Let’s Go Coyotes, Red Wings Suck!” chant I uttered. Last year the hockey Gods gave us a pass on the dreaded path. Avoiding them led to a run that could of been the last hurrah for Doan. May of been fitting after so much effort another close but no cigar for Doan and the Desert Dawgs. A run that led to the Western Conference Finals in which the Coyotes were beaten by the Kings and the refs it seemed at times. Doan was quite emotional seeing penalty after penalty called for ticky tack offenses including a game misconduct for Doan for boarding. Yet the LA capt. with a cheap shot could of ended a career for our young defenseman. But hey no one likes to hear the media bias and league wanting a West Coast Champion in their “Major Market” theories.
So here we were at the crossroads for Shane Doan and the only team other than his Canadian Olympic team. Should I stay or should I go now.
After several discussion with possible new owner Greg Jamison over his future with the Coyotes Shane made a long awaited decision. He decided to buck the trend and most likely advice from many involved. Shane said YES. He would stay. Re-sign. At a discount. Huh? Whhhhaaaaat? Even I was in disbelief. Nash awoke in his hotel in a sweat. His slice of karma arose in the form of a broken bone in his leg. Ok that is harsh but many fans feel that way. Very bitter about the departure of their favorite SUN. Doan was Doan.
This Canadian Captain took LOYALTY and shaped it into a huge C which appears on his upper left side of his chest. Near his heart. If anyone ever questions his heart, passion, and loyalty for the Phoenix Coyotes then they just don’t understand sports, Hockey, and maybe life.
Shane Doan re-signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for less money than the market warranted. He was our white knight. Our true North from the North. He sparked our fading hopes. That ember that had smoldered could not be dashed out by Goldwater institute or another NHL team. It shined brighter than the Sun. It may have been the turning point in this franchise who has had as many twists and turns than a California theme park ride. One thing is for sure. We as fans of this embattled franchise have enjoyed the ride. Thanks to Shane Doan. We may be able to keep riding even after Shane rides off into the Arizona sunset. Howling as a Coyote. He will always be a COYOTE!