Shane Doan isn't sure how fans will greet him when he and the Coyotes take the ice inside the MTS Centre on Thursday night for a game against the "new" Winnipeg Jets. Phoenix beat the Jets, 4-1, in Glendale earlier this season, but this game will be the franchise's first in Winnipeg since the Manitoba city returned to the NHL this past off- season.
Doan, of course, played one season for the "old" Winnipeg Jets, aka the Coyotes, when he was a rookie in 1995-96. He scored seven goals that season, including his first in the NHL at the now demolished Winnipeg Arena on Nov. 14 vs. Chicago.
"I don't know how I'll be received," Doan told me with a smile. "I'm sure it won't be overly positive. We'll just have to wait and see. They've got their team now and they're very passionate about their own team so anybody that comes in there on another team, I don't think they're going to be too excited about."
Doan had two assists for the Coyotes in a preseason game against Calgary played at the MTS Centre on Sept. 24, 2008, but Thursday's game will be his first meaningful game in Winnipeg since he and the Jets lost to the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, in Game 6 of a 1996 Stanley Cup quarterfinal series.
Doan said once the puck drops on Thursday it will likely be just another game. But, he said he expects the pre-game experience today and tomorrow to be somewhat surreal.
"It's a unique situation in the fact that Winnipeg is the city that drafted me," Doan said. "It's a totally different organization, but it's the same city. It will be fun to play where there's a connection like that."
Thursday's game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
• The NHL is scheduled to announce its Three Stars of the Month for November on Thursday. I will be shocked - and disappointed - if Coyotes goalie Mike Smith isn't one of them.
Smith posted an 8-2-1 record and stopped 346 of 366 shots (.945 save percentage) in November. He posted two shutouts in those 11 games and allowed more than two goals only twice in the other nine.
• The Coyotes next home game is Saturday vs. Philadelphia. The first 10,000 fans at the game will receive a Coyotes Fleece blanket, courtesy of Gila River. Visit phoenixcoyotes.com for ticket information.