Mr. Doan, I must say that you have had better timing.
In case you haven't heard the news, Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan was suspended three games Wednesday for elbowing Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn.
While at first the hit looked brutal, replays showed that Benn may have changed direction faster than Doan anticipated or that Benn enhanced the look of the hit, possibly to get a call or a suspension. If that is the case, good for him. It's a smart move removing a team's captain in the midst of an incredibly tight playoff race.
But none of that matters now. The Coyotes are currently sitting slightly adrift of the playoffs and are in for three games against tough teams -- Colorado, San Jose and St. Louis. All are playoff-caliber teams and the former two are right in the thick of it with the Coyotes, meaning a loss for the Coyotes drops them way down and boosts their opponents.
The Coyotes are also dealing with numerous injury problems, with productive forward Radim Vrbata coming down with a nasty flu and other guys picking up knocks almost every game.
Basically, Doan picked a really, really bad time to pick up a suspension. You can make all the arguments you want about the call and the circumstances, but the decision has been made. Looking back, I bet Doan, who is known for hitting hard but not being a dirty player whatsoever, wishes he just pulled out of the check. And immediately after, he had the look of a player expecting a suspension. He knew what he did and while it looked like he regretted it, the incident occurred and it was caught on tape.
I won't fault him for sticking with the check. It was an intense game chock-full of hitting and scrums. It was playoff-level hockey in March and I will never complain about that. Doan went in looking to make a statement, as the captain should, and caught Benn with an elbow. NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said the NHL accepted that Doan meant no harm, but decided the elbow was "reckless," which it was. It happens, and Doan got the book.
Thankfully, the team should be able to get along without their captain for a few games. He's not the biggest offensive threat in the league and the return of Kyle Chipchura should fill the physical role the team needs. It's going to be up to guys like Yandle and Hanzal, the team alternates, to step up and fill Doan's skates.
But it's going to be difficult for a team that plays and succeeds on nothing but heart to win without the guy who delivers that heart, both on and off the ice. Love you Doaner, but this was a bad Shanaban to take at a really, really bad time.