Recently, 13-year-old aspiring journalist Haley Smilow had the chance to sit down with Arizona’s Shane Doan for a Q&A. Their conversation revealed some interesting facts about the Coyotes captain, who is one of the game’s genuinely good guys.
HALEY: What’s the best part about being a hockey player and what’s the worst part about being a hockey player?
SHANE: The best part about being a hockey player is definitely the competitiveness. They’re competing and having fun and, you know, you get challenged every day to do something that you love to do. As a kid, I mean playing a sport doesn’t get much better than that. So that’s obviously the best part. And the hardest part is being away from my family. I have a wife and four kids and it really kind of takes control of your life for six or seven months of the year and forces them to kind of get pushed back a little bit. I don’t enjoy that part of it.
HALEY: Who are the greatest influences on your hockey career?
SHANE: The greatest influence on my career would probably be my dad. He played, I admired the way he was and the way he played the game. And then guys that I played with, that I watched growing up. I loved Paul Coffey. I thought he was amazing. He was a phenomenal hockey player. And the guys that I’ve played with since, probably Teppo Numminen, Keith Tkachuk and Kris King are the 3 captains that I had, I admired them, along with Mike Gartner.
HALEY: Who would you not want to fight?
SHANE: Oh, I don’t know if there’s many guys I’d want to fight, but I really don’t want to fight Zdeno Chara. Obviously everyone’s scared of him. He’s a huge, huge man. I’d go with Chara if we’re talking about hockey, but there are a lot of people I don’t want to fight outside of hockey.
HALEY: Is there anyone on your team you don’t want to fight?
SHANE: B.J. Crombeen is pretty tough. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to fight him at any moment. There are a few guys I really would like to fight. I’d really like to lay a beating on Mike Smith once in a while. I’m not saying I could, I just would like to do that.
HALEY: I was watching the practice. Do you like to play baseball at all the practices?
SHANE: Yeah, after practice we can sometimes have fun hitting pucks and seeing how you do. Even as a professional athlete, you’re still just a kid at heart – every kid likes to play games and play sports and anytime you can bring in a little bit of a competition to see if you can do something, I think we all like that.
HALEY: Do you like the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Toronto Blue Jays?
SHANE: See, you can’t put me on the spot like that…that’s a good question. I think I’ve got to go with the Diamondbacks. I grew up being a Blue Jays fan, but I’ve met a few of the Diamondbacks and I’m a huge Paul Goldschmidt fan…And Luis Gonzalez and I became friends, so I’ve got to go with Diamondbacks even though in my heart I was definitely a Blue Jays fan. I remember where I was when Joe Carter hit the homerun to beat the Phillies (in 1993).
HALEY: What superhero would make the best hockey player and why?
SHANE: Best superhero? I’m sure The Flash would be good. I mean, he’s faster than everybody, and the game’s a game of speed, so I’m sure he’d probably be best.
HALEY: What was your first reaction to seeing yourself in the NHL 15 video game?
SHANE: Well, I’m a little slow. They could have made me a little bit faster, but they gave me pretty good rating overall so I wasn’t that disappointed…I’m a big FIFA soccer guy with my boys because it’s something different, I usually lay a beating on them pretty badly in FIFA soccer, so that’s what I’m excited about.
HALEY: What team do you like to play with in FIFA?
SHANE: I’m Bayern Munich right now. We used to be Spain, but Spain got knocked down a couple of pegs. I try to pick the best team because that’s the only way I have a chance against my boys because they’re quite a bit better than me.
HALEY: Do you have any hidden talents?
SHANE: No. Heck no. You know what? I have a lot of useless information. I enjoy knowing things that are completely useless and no one really cares about. So if you need anything like that you let me know. I have tons of it.
HALEY: What’s one thing your fans don’t know about you?
SHANE: That I’m a really good clapper. I’m a great clapper. I enjoy clapping and I’m a good clapper.
HALEY: What advice would you give to kids aspiring to be hockey players?
SHANE: Have fun. It’s the greatest game in the world. When you play it, you’re playing a sport that is full of energy and intensity, emotion and compassion. I love it. And if you’re going to play it you might as well enjoy it, and the best way to enjoy it is by having fun.
Haley Smilow is a New York-based semi-professional journalist. Her interviews have been published with SI Kids, Baseball Youth Magazine and MLB Cut 4. She has interviewed more than two dozen MLB players and attended the 2013 MLB All-Star Game press conference at Citifield. Articles about Haley have been featured in The New York Times, Scholastic News and on NPR Radio.