His captaincy was called into question by politicians on Parliament Hill early in this IIHF World Hockey Championship, but Doan didn’t feel like he’d proven anything special to them after helping Canada to the gold medal on Sunday.
“People are going to think what they think,” he said after a 4-2 win over Finland in the final game. “It means a lot to win it, for sure, especially given what happened.
“But I know people will believe what they want to. Hopefully, they’ve gotten to know what kind of guy I really am.”
The controversy surrounded a disputed on-ice remark in 2005. Doan ended up getting a call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper after the issue was raised in the House of Commons and three Hockey Canada officials had to defend his selection as captain in Ottawa.
Even though Doan didn’t show any outward signs of distress at that time, he admits the experience was hard on him.
“Initially it wasn’t very much fun,” he said. “That’s when you’re thankful for your family and you’re thankful for the support you have.
“And the guys and Hockey Canada made it so easy for me. They were so incredible.”
So was Doan’s play at the world championship.
He had five goals and 10 points and was the emotional leader of this team. His biggest statement came during a qualifying round game with Belarus in the middle of the controversy when he scored a hat trick in a span of six minutes 25 seconds.
“It was unbelievable, especially with all those things going on,” said forward Rick Nash, the tournament MVP. “He’s our captain, he’s our leader and he deserves that ‘C’ on his jersey.”
Public sentiment seemed to generally be behind Doan throughout the ordeal. The 29-year-old captain of the Phoenix Coyotes was alleged to have made a slur against a Francophones during a game in Montreal in December 2005.
His teammates here at the world championship still can’t believe the unproven allegation was ever brought up in the House of Commons.
“That whole thing was a joke from the beginning,” said defenceman Eric Brewer. “It was a total waste of time and people should have had better things to do than care about that.”
Coach Andy Murray echoed those sentiments.
He was among Doan’s biggest backers from the beginning, noting that the veteran would have been justified in skipping the world championship but still elected to come because he’s such a proud Canadian.
“He was a tremendous leader for us all the way through,” said Murray. “I’m not much of a politician, I’m more of a hockey coach. When I see stuff like that, I just shake my head.”
Doan couldn’t help but shake his a little while looking down at his red sweater and seeing the gold medal over the Team Canada logo. It’s the third gold he’s won at the world championship in the last five years.
The native of Halkirk, Alta., impressed his teammates with the way he handled the early-tournament controversy.
“He didn’t change his ways at all,” said defenceman Nick Schultz. “He kept leading this team.”
Added forward Justin Williams: “He’s just a solid all-around guy, an unbelievable hockey player. When you talk about leading by example, he’s the face of that. He plays hard every night.”
That didn’t change no matter what was happening back home.
Neither did his strong feelings for the country. Doan is a veteran of many international tournaments and was asked if there’s any better hockey nation in the world than Canada.
“No,” said Doan. “Not even close.”