Shane Doan Finalist for Messier Award at NHL Awards in Vegas


Coyote Captain Shane Doan has been nominated for the Messier Award that will be presented at the NHL Awards at the Wynn Theatre in Las Vegas Wednesday June 20th. Shane is joined by Dustin Brown of the LA Kings and Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers as the three finalists.

Shane won the King Clancy award two years ago. When he was presented the award on stage, he was flanked by members of the Armed Services to highlight the NHL’s commitment to the men and women who wear the uniform. Immediately after being handed the award, Shane talked about the team. How the coaches set the tone. Then he talked about what a great Phoenix is to come and play hockey. It was not about Shane. It is never about Shane.

The 2011-2012 Coyotes had a summer of discontent. They has finished 3rd in the Pacific, 6th in the Western Conference and were quickly defeated in the first round by Detroit. There was still the talk of relocation, the NHL owned the team, and the Matthew Hulsizer deal had fallen through. Ulf Samuelsson has left the staff to coach in the Sweden. Dave King stepped down from the bench to be the Development Coach. Associate Captain Ed Jovanovski was an unrestricted free agent and left for Florida. Vernon Fiddler told GM Don Maloney he was coming back but signed a contract with Dallas. Ilya Bryzgalov chased the money to Philadelphia. Role players like Eric Belanger and Lee Stempniak were gone. And the budget GMDM had to work with was amongst the lowest in the league. Hockey the Hard Way was adopted as the slogan. It was fitting in so many ways.

What did Shane do? He led the team. In off season workouts and in drills during training camp, Shane was the hardest worker. He stayed after practice to work on one-time shots (see my article Practice for more examples). There was extra skating with team skating coach Mark Ciaccio  (check out Mark at MC Hockey Skills). He was coming off his 1000th game played season and led the team in goals (20) and points (60). He was and is the face of the franchise.

Once the season started, the team struggled to string wins together. They would get two wins, then lose one or two. They stayed above 0.500 after the ninth game of the season and never looked back. There were last second defeats at the hands of Dallas, Philadelphia and the NY Rangers. In December, they were two games over 0.500 and stayed that way until the end of January and the All-Star break. January 7th saw Shane get his first career hat trick. With 0.1 seconds on the clock, he put it between the mattresses of NY Islander’s goalie Evgeni Nabakov. Two weeks later, he had his 40th two goal game of his career.

It was at the All-Star break management went to a few of the UFA’s and talked to them about the possibility of being traded before the deadline. The team was 13th in the West and looking up at the Pacific Division which was running away with the lead. Better to get something for the UFA’s now versus let them walk at the end of the season. GMDM and Dave Tippett have never said which players were talked to, but you can guess it was Shane and Ray Whitney and probably veterans still under contract like Derek Morris and Adrian Aucoin. How did the team respond? They went undefeated in the month of February and vaulted to the lead in the Pacific. Dave Tippett always talks about the best way to make the playoffs is to win your division.

A push had to be made in late March and through the end of the regular season. Who led the way? Your Captain. 5 straight wins to close the season and finish atop the Pacific for the first time in Coyote history. When the fans met the team at Cutter Aviation at midnight, who came to the fence to shake everyone’s hand? Shane.  After the team won a playoff series for the first time in Coyote history and thousands were at the airport to meet them coming in from Chicago, it was Shane who came up to the fence. And shook everyone’s hand. The he got into his pickup truck with Mike Smith riding shotgun. There is the Captain driving your should-be Vezina finalist goalie home after a road trip. Making sure he kept Mike Smith calm, looking out for his goalie.

Game winning goal in game 4 of the Nashville and LA Kings series. Shane picked up the team and won game 4 against the Kings. His passion and emotion after the LA Kings series was real. Powerful. The fans have wanted to see emotion from this team. They want to emotionally invest in the Coyotes. Shane gave them the chance.

Shane is the face of the Coyotes. Shane is a leader and deserves the Messier Award. Who is the leader of the Rangers? Probably three or four players ahead of their Captain. The Kings? Get in line behind Quick and Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Matt Greene.

The Messier Award is for leadership. He has never turned down a charity. He signs every autograph, takes every photograph asked of him. Not one team in the NHL has had more adversity than the Coyotes. Not one team has gone farther with less. And who has been at the helm of this team? Shane.