Later in the day on Wednesday, the Hockey Hall of Fame will announce the inductees that will make up the Class of 2020. The list of players who could enter the HHOF this year is stronger than usual, with recently retired stars like Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa now eligible for induction. Returnees like Daniel Alfredsson, Patrik Elias, Theo Fleury, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, and Rod Brind’Amour are still waiting for their Hall inductions as well, making this year’s ballot packed with solid choices.
Also eligible for the first time this year is Captain Coyote, Shane Doan. “Doaner” is obviously beloved in Arizona for his 21 years of service to the Coyotes franchise, but how does his career stack up when it comes to Hockey Hall of Fame consideration? Will Doan someday receive a phone call from the committee, informing him of his induction to le temple de la renommée du hockey?
The Case for Doan
The list of honors and achievements that Doan attained during his career is lengthy and impressive. Since the Hockey Hall of Fame is based upon a player’s entire body of work in the sport, and not solely upon their performance in the NHL, these are important achievements to cover.
As a member of the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers, Doan, along with fellow HHOF hopeful Jarome Iginla and current Coyotes TV commentator Tyson Nash, led his team to back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1994 and 1995. He won two World Championship gold medals with Team Canada in 2003 and 2007, and also took home three additional silver medals at the IIHF Worlds as well. He won gold at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, too, scoring the third-period game-winner in the Final against Finland.
When it comes to NHL awards, Doan took home the King Clancy Trophy in 2010, and the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2012. He retired as his team’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, points, power-play goals, and game-winning goals. He’s one of just seven players in NHL history to play in 1,500 or more games with a single franchise, joining Steve Yzerman, Ray Bourque, Alex Delvecchio, Patrick Marleau, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Gordie Howe in this exclusive club.
Put simply, Shane Doan had an outstanding career. However, was it good enough to warrant induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame?
The Case Against Doan
Based upon Doan’s body of work and NHL statistics in comparison to other players who have so far been left out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, it looks like he might have to wait a while for induction, despite his strong career.
As we discussed previously, former players like Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, and Daniel Alfredsson, who all reached the 1,000-point milestone in 1,100 games or fewer, are on the outside looking in. On the other hand, Doan played in 1,540 games and recorded just 972 points, for a per-game average of 0.63, or a 52-point pace over an 82-game season.
Statistically, the numbers just aren’t on Doan’s side when comparing him to his peers.
The Bottom Line
However, one also has to take into account Doan’s 21-year career with the Coyotes. The poor teams that he played on likely hampered his ability to collect more points in the NHL. Indeed, Doan played in only 55 playoff games over his career, and reached the postseason in just 3 of his final 14 years in the league. For comparison’s sake, fellow HHOF hopeful Marian Hossa played in 64 playoff games with the Chicago Blackhawks during a three-postseason span from 2013 to 2015 and finished his career with 11 consecutive playoff appearances from 2007 to 2017.
Doan had plenty of chances to leave Phoenix for greener pastures, especially after the 2009 bankruptcy which left the organization in ruins, but he chose to stay loyal to the franchise that drafted him. In doing so, Doan ultimately cost himself the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup, and he likely cost himself a handful of goals and assists during his prime as well.
As it stands now, Doan averaged 0.63 points per game over his career. With a better supporting cast, it’s probable that he would have scored a bit more during his prime. Penciling in a few extra goals and assists here and there throughout his best 12 years from 1999-00 to 2011-12, during which the Coyotes made only three playoff appearances, would push Doan past the 1,000-point mark and bump up his scoring average to around 0.70 points per game.
In addition to sacrificing some of his individual success, Doan also, by staying in Arizona, arguably saved a franchise from certain demise. During a time in which no one actively owned the Coyotes, Doan’s on- and off-the-ice leadership helped to stabilize things inside and outside the organization. Without him, there’s probably no magical 50-win 2009-10 season, and, without that season, there’s probably no longer a Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes franchise.
Admittedly, this is all very arbitrary and hypothetical, but one statistical area that can help us out here is point shares. According to Hockey-Reference, point shares are equivalent to the approximate number of team standings points a player was directly responsible for during their career, independent from their teammates.
For example, Mike Smith led all players with 16.73 point shares during the 2011-12 season, meaning that without him, the Coyotes would have won about eight fewer games (and lost another one in overtime), giving them a 33-35-14 record and a 14th-place finish in the Western Conference instead of an eventual berth in the Western Conference Final. Quite the difference.
Back to Doan. In his career, he contributed 68.05 offensive point shares, which is on par with other Hockey Hall of Famers like Jacques Lemaire, Bernie Federko, Lanny McDonald, and Dave Keon. In total, Doan finished his career with 96.31 overall point shares, which puts him in the neighborhood of Darryl Sittler, Michel Goulet, and Bernie Geoffrion, all of whom are enshrined in Toronto.
Overall, Doan’s full body of work in the sport of hockey is impressive, but he doesn’t really stand out from other HHOF hopefuls at all. He had a very good, but not great career. However, other, similar players are enshrined, and none of them had a greater off-the-ice impact on a franchise than Doan had in Arizona.
After all, if Guy Carbonneau and his 663 points in 1,318 games played can get into the Hockey Hall of Fame, why can’t Shane Doan?