BERN, Switzerland – It wasn’t the kind of wakeup call Shane Doan was expecting.
The captain of the Phoenix Coyotes was sleeping in a Swiss hotel room when his cellphone was flooded with messages early Wednesday. BlackBerry boss Jim Balsillie had made a bold offer to purchase his NHL team and move it to Southern Ontario, prompting several people to try and contact the Coyotes longest-serving player to see what he knew about the situation.
“I got 11 voice mails and text messages all at like three in the morning, they all came in at, and everyone was asking the same question,” Doan said after practising with Canada’s world championship team later in the day. “I haven’t heard a thing from the Coyotes.”
While the 32-year-old had been hearing news of financial trouble in Phoenix for some time, this caught his attention. He was with the franchise when it moved from Winnipeg in 1996 and has planted deep roots in the city over the past decade.
Not only is Doan the team captain, he’s also in the middle of a five-year contract.
“There’s a reason why I’ve stayed there and a reason why I’ve been in Phoenix for that long,” said Doan, a native of Halkirk, Alta. “It’s not like I just got there. This is home for my family and my kids.
“Obviously, it’d be tough. But that’s part of hockey and you deal with it.”
Among the first guys to speak with Doan on Wednesday were Matthew Lombardi and Scottie Upshall – two other players currently representing Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
They both arrived in Phoenix at the March trade deadline and were understandably curious about what was going on with their new franchise. Lombardi wasn’t able to get too many answers.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how to take it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I can’t tell you what’s going through my mind because I’m not really worried about it right now.
“We’ll let the business deal with itself, we’re just getting ready to play hockey here.”
Doan figures he’s been hearing about the possibility of relocation for the past five or six months. Without ever being traded or signing a free-agent contract, he might end up playing in a third different NHL city.
“We did it in Winnipeg,” said Doan. “It would be Winnipeg, Phoenix and now back up to Canada. I don’t know.
“It’s one of those things that there’s a bunch of people saying it’ll never happen too.”
Whether it ends up happening of not, the possibility can’t be ignored now.
No matter how many stories Doan reads about the financial demise of the franchise, the news never gets any easier to take.
“I don’t think you ever really build up that much immunity,” he said. “When I signed a five-year deal to stay in Phoenix, I obviously wanted to stay there. It’s obviously something that bothers you but at the same time you know that sometimes it looks a lot darker than it really is.”
For the time being, he’ll try to look on the bright side.
“It’ll be business as usual until they tell me differently,” said Doan.