Shane Doan is the greatest captain in NHL history
Here's the chain of events. Arizona Sports 620 will tweet out a link to this blog. A Phoenix snowbird from Canada who listens to the show will read it and laugh openly. He will then retweet the link or e-mail it to a buddy still in Canada and they will mock me. In a few days, there will be a ground swell of Canadians calling me names. Over time the Canadian Parliament will use this blog as proof the Coyotes should become the reincarnated Nordiques if Phoenix media is this stupid.
If you disagree, here's your challenge: name a captain who led his team to three straight playoff berths while dealing with more crap than Shane Doan.
In no way am I arguing that Shane Doan is the greatest player of all-time. I'm not even arguing Doaner is a Hall of Famer. He's never guaranteed a win against his rival and reinforced the guarantee with a hat trick. He's not the only captain to win Cups with two different franchises. He hasn't retired and come back in on the white horse to actually buy his bankrupt franchise (although that would be nice). Doan hasn't won a Cup and a Canadian Gold Medal in the same year, while being voted greatest sports athlete in a hard, blue-collar town.
Shane Doan does not need a talk show host to tell him he's not Messier, Lemieux or Yzerman. One of those three men are clearly on the Mount Rushmore of NHL captains. They are there, however, for the wins and Cups they earned for their franchise. In the past, the judgment of a captain should only be on the final results and the individual professionalism.
Is it harder to captain a team with Grant Fuhr in goal or a new goalie every year? Is it more difficult to keep guys focused in a packed barn where the fans love hockey almost as much as their legendary football team or in a city with 8,000 empty seats? How strong of a leader do you have to be to get your teammates to respect the second-greatest coach in sports history, or does it take a little extra to influence the other guys in the locker room to follow The Great One who morphed into The Lazy One?
Shane Doan had to wake up every morning wondering which one of Gretzky's friends would get hired today. He had to wonder whether The Great One would bother with actually moving to the city whose team he was coaching or just fly in for a visit. Every day he came to work he had to get a group of men to commit to a man who wasn't committed to the city or the team. Then, one day, the The Great One was The Absent One.
Who has to address a media corps that only arrive when the team seems destined to leave? Shane Doan. Who has to stand there knowing his fellow Canadians will burn him at the stake if he really spoke his mind about Wayne Greztky? Shane Doan. Who had to deal with just as many questions from the media about his future residence as he got from his own family and friends? Shane Doan.
Then the Coyotes came up with a novelty item. They would actually hire a committed hockey coach, only they would do it during training camp because they didn't know where the real coach was. They didn't even know who owned them. Shane Doan captained a playoff team without an owner, a new coach and a room full of men that had no idea where they would live next year. He did it in 2010. He did it in 2011. He's done it again.
After three years of hearing the cheers of 10-year-old birthday parties going on one sheet of ice over during practice, Shane Doan is a playoff captain again. After three years of season ticket holders having no idea if they should commit to next year, Shane Doan is a playoff captain again. After three years of being owned by Gary Bettman, Shane Doan is a playoff captain again.
After three years, Shane Doan is about to experience something no Jet/Coyote captain has ever experienced: Shane Doan will lead his team into the second round of the playoffs.
Shane Doan is nowhere close to being the greatest player of all-time. No captain has come close to dealing with so much on-the-bench ineptitude under one coach and then off- the-ice distractions -- through no fault of the new coach -- while still being the all-class face of the franchise.
Chicago, you have great hockey fans. Blackhawks, you are a model franchise, but you already had your time. Right now, it's Doan time.
Good luck to the men being led by the greatest captain in NHL history. Go Yotes!