Shane Doan has officially retired. Sure, we all assumed the right winger’s career was done when the Arizona Coyotes infamously cut ties with him in the summer, but with Doan making his announcement with a special thank-you letter in the Arizona Republic, it’s a good time to look at what kind of guy he was in the room.
Doan is by far the most important player in Coyotes history. Captain since 2003-04, he stuck with a franchise that started off in Winnipeg for his rookie campaign, then moved to the desert, where ownership, arena and attendance woes often put the organization in the headlines for the wrong reasons. But Doan always came back and there were some definite highs during his time – 2012’s run to the division title and Western Conference final being the most obvious.
“We had a blast,” said former teammate Paul Bissonnette. “The first three years I was there (2009-10 to 2011-12), the team made a lot of strides and there was great morale and camaraderie in the room. Shane was a large part of that, because he was so level-headed. He’s the man.”
Doan was always there to help players from the first day they arrived in Arizona. Dylan Strome found that out first-hand when he attended his first NHL training camp, which he told me about as part of an article I did on the young pivot in 2016.
“Shane Doan is such a nice guy,” Strome said. “He’s a world-class player and a world-class guy. He told me when I left that if I needed anything, tickets to any game or if I had any problems whatsoever, to give him a call or a text.”
But it’s not just teammates who benefitted from Doan’s presence. The fans of the Coyotes – and the organization itself – could always count on the captain to go beyond the call of duty when it came to autographs or chats.
“He’s very unselfish with his time,” Bissonnette said. “The guy has a wife and four kids, but he wouldn’t leave the rink after a game until 11:30 because he was meeting with fans. He was an ambassador.”
One of those fans turned out to be Arizona’s most famous homegrown player, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who tweeted out his congratulations to Doan.
When news came out that Arizona cut ties with Doan through an antiseptic meeting at a restaurant with GM John Chayka, it all felt a little icky. Owner Andrew Barroway took responsibility for not meeting with Doan face-to-face himself, so at least there was an admission of guilt there. But that’s not how anyone is going to remember Doan.
He’s always going to be the rugged power forward who, in his prime, hit the 30-goal mark twice and flirted with a point-per-game output. And for his former teammates, he’ll always be the captain who did everything and more you would expect from someone in that role.
“When I was going through tough situations, being a healthy scratch for five or six games in a row, he would ask me how I was doing mentally,” Bissonnette said. “He did that for a lot of players. He’s just a great guy.”
Now, officially, Doan can have some much-deserved time off.