If there’s one player fans and players alike would like to see win a Stanley Cup before the end of his career, no player would be at the top of more lists than Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes. That’s not going to happen, though, because Doan is intent on playing his entire career with the Coyotes, a team that is getting further away from winning a Cup, not closer.
Doan said “you never say never,” but it doesn’t seem like there is any circumstance that would get him out of the desert. And the Coyotes don’t seem to be in a huge rush to trade him.
So what was good for Ray Bourque and Jarome Iginla, trades at the end of their careers with the intent of helping them win their first championships, is not for Doan. Coyotes GM Don Maloney said he’d never even entertain the prospect of trading Doan unless the captain came to him with a trade request. “That would have to be totally his call,” Maloney said. “We owe that to him.” And Doan said he’d never do that and would only consider being dealt if he were approached by management.
And there have been suitors. Even with a contract that carries a salary cap hit of $5.3 million through next season, Doan has attracted some interest. But according to a source close to the player, he has no interest in leaving the only team for which he has ever played.
“Oh, yeah, I want to win,” Doan said after his Coyotes ended a seven-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night. “There isn’t any question about that. But you take responsibility for something and the Coyotes have been great to me. Obviously, I don’t like the situation we’re in and the way things are right now. It’s not something I’m thinking about.”
The Coyotes are circling the drain and have decided to hit the reset button on the franchise and build with youth. Nothing would do that better than for the Coyotes to get a blue-chip prospect in the draft this summer and that’s possible, considering they’re currently the fourth-worst team in the NHL. If they trade pending unrestricted free agents Antoine Vermette, Martin Erat and Zbynek Michalek at the deadline, and perhaps even defenseman Keith Yandle (who has a year left on his deal), it could give the team a shot at finishing dead-last next season and having the best chance to draft phenom Auston Matthews, who would be a dream player for the Coyotes to acquire. Not only is he a generational talent who is putting up numbers equivalent to Jack Eichel at the same age, but he’s a homegrown talent, having played all his minor hockey in Arizona.
The way Maloney sees it, trading Doan would be a counterproductive move for a franchise that is trying to teach its young players how to win.
“It’s not just getting young assets, but you have to have the right people around them,” Maloney said. “He’s still really important to what we’re trying to do here and he’s going to be more important going forward. He’s dragged this team around for the past five years and obviously he’s getting older, but we have to get better players around him, too.”
Doan has one more year on his deal with the Coyotes, which will take him to a couple of months before his 40th birthday. He might be able to make a move then, but the window is clearly closing quickly. Doan could have left for greener pastures before signing his four-year, $21.2 million deal with the Coyotes in 2012, but chose to stay. He’s realistic about his chances of playing beyond this contract.
“Right now, yeah, of course. You don’t see yourself ever ending,” Doan said when asked if he might play into his 40s. “But at the same time, I recognize I’ll be at 1,400 games pretty soon and that’s a lot of games. And I’m not a guy who’s really skilled and can float around out there. Those guys with skill, it’s easy for them. Not a lot of things have been easy for me.”
Perhaps the toughest thing to accept has been the decline of the Coyotes on the ice. Less than three years ago they made it to the Western Conference final before falling to the eventual Stanley Cup champions and now they’re bottom feeders, starting again with a four- or five-year plan before they can become competitive again.
So it’s fair to say Doan is content where he is. Or not.
“No, I’m not happy,” Doan told Matt Larkin of thn.com after the game, “but at the same time, (a trade) hasn’t crossed my mind. I don’t see it crossing my mind.”