If the Arizona Coyotes continue to fade from Stanley Cup playoff consideration, the question of moving personnel could become paramount. That would particularly torturous for captain Shane Doan, now in his 19th season with the franchise.
Drafted by the old Winnipeg Jets on the first round, and seventh overall in the 1995 NHL draft, Doan has remained the titular head of the franchise. At 39-years-old and enjoying a rejuvenated season, the dilemma facing Doan, and the Coyotes’ management, is his future. Doan has skated all of his 19 years in the league with the same franchise and any movement, here in the fading years of his astonishing career, could be disturbing at best and unsettling at worst.
This season, Doan’s $21 million contract expires, and his future with the Coyotes, or perhaps another team, is up for discussion. With the trade deadline approaching, and considering Doan’s value as both a leader in the dressing room and his productive season on the ice, the question remains outstanding. Would a team on the playoff bubble wish to take a chance with Doan, or would the native of Halkirk, Ala. refuse any movement.
There is no question Doan’s influence in the Arizona dressing room is significant, and he is regarded as one of the best captains in the NHL. Players attest to his leadership qualities and, in recent years when the Arizona franchise was going through a myriad of sale rumors, Doan was kept on the top of the list in commissioner’s Gary Bettman speed dial. Though he tells reporters the game is still fun and he enjoys every minute on the ice, in the dressing room or in the community as a Coyotes representative, Doan continues cast a substantial shadow over this franchise.
“What (Doan) has done for this organization is phenomenal,” said Arizona coach Dave Tippett. “The commitment he has to the organization, the city and his teammates is amazing to watch every day.”
On The Free-Agent Market
During the summer of 2012, and as a free agent, Doan was courted heavily by certain clubs. The New York Rangers arranged a helicopter tour of Manhattan, and the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly put on a full-court press for this services. In the end, Doan’s heart remained in the desert, and on Sept. 14, 2012, just days before the lockout, he signed a 4-year, $21 million to stay with the Coyotes.
Now, that agreement is about to expire, and Doan’s future is a subject of curious debate. His value to the Arizona franchise and his stature in the community, supporting various charities and attending high-profile charity events, is legion. At the same time, Doan is enjoying a renaissance of spirit and production. Coming into Saturday’s game with the Flyers in the Wells Fargo Center, Doan leads the Coyotes in goals scored and is one power play tally behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the team leader. Already, he is franchise leader in goals and points scored, and his contributions to the Coyotes remain extraordinary.
While Tippett said Doan remains in great playing shape, that may be the one criteria which governs his future. As long as he remains ready for the rigors of the NHL game, Doan holds value for his team. He still fore-checks with abandon, rattles opponents in the corner, and adds worth as an important penalty killer. All of which could portend his ability to command another NHL contract.
Going forward, the question is whether the Coyotes want to part with such an integral segment of the franchise. It’s almost a given other teams would accept Doan’s locker room presence with an open hand.
At the start of the season, many questioned Doan’s capabilities, and cited a man in his late 30s with aging and diminishing physical skills. With his performance on the ice this season, Doan easily countered those critics, and continues to play the game at particularly a high level.
Approaching the trade deadline, that’s the question for the moment. Does Doan have value to those clubs on the Stanley Cup bubble? Perhaps the more important question is Doan’s willingness to leave a franchise in which he has been an essential part for nearly two decades.
Mark Brown is a former sports editor for daily newspapers in the Philadelphia and Cincinnati markets. He was named Best Sports Columnist, honorable mention 2004 by the Associated Press Society of Ohio. He is a contributor to major daily newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Milwaukee Journal, Arizona Republic, Nashville Tennessean and the Associated Press. He was a Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and covered the Arizona Coyotes.