The decision was made on Saturday but it took until Monday for the news to come out.
After 21 seasons, Shane Doan’s tenure with the Arizona Coyotes franchise was over.
In a statement released by the team, owner Andrew Barroway explained that the time had come for the Coyotes to focus on their younger players, which meant the 40-year-old Doan was not exactly a good fit.
A free agent, Doan will leave as the organization’s all-time leader in many statistical categories, including goals, assists, points and games played.
“Obviously it’s a little different, but I’m OK and trying to kind of sort through all the feelings and emotions of it,” Doan told Burns and Gambo Monday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “But hey, you understand and you see and it’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game.”
That the Coyotes ultimately decided to move on from Doan, who posted his lowest full season point total since 1998-99 while also registering his lowest average ice time since then, is not necessarily a shock.
The team has struggled since reaching the Western Conference Final in 2012, and last season earned just 70 points, which was the third-lowest total in the West. Even with Doan, they would not have been expected to reach the postseason in 2018, let alone make a run for the Stanley Cup.
But still, Doan — who admitted there is some sadness and anger over what has transpired — said he feels good about having played as long as he did for a single organization, noting it was an “incredible run” that he is grateful and thankful for.
He called his run with the franchise “special.”
Its end, however, is disappointing.
Doan said he found out the news Saturday when GM John Chayka called and wanted to meet with him. He said he realized fairly early on in the conversation what was happening, and after Chayka thanked him for all he’d done and shook his hand, it was time to go.
The last thing Doan wanted to do, he said, was react in an emotional way, no matter how surprised and upset he may have been.
“I wasn’t necessarily shocked that they didn’t want me to play again,” Doan said. “I understand the direction that they’re going.
“I don’t completely agree with a lot of the decisions that they’ve made, but at the same time it needs to be reaffirmed that I am a player and I think that was the biggest part of it.”
That means, according to Doan, the front office’s job is to construct a team, while his job is to play. So, if the team did not want him to play for them, that’s that.
As for whether or not this will mark the end of his career, Doan is not sure.
Though he is coming off a down year, Doan hits free agency with 402 career goals and 570 assists on his resume, while also being a long-time captain and universally respected player. An All-Star in 2004 and 2009, Doan understands he is not the player he once was, but believes he is more like the player he was in 2015-16, when he recorded 47 points, than he was last season.
Doan said his personality is such that his initial response to the Coyotes not wanting him to play is to want to play even more, because the competitor in him wants to prove that he can. He is confident 2016-17 took an emotional toll on him, which impacted his on-ice performance.
“As a player I need emotion and I need heart in order to be effective, and I think I kind of let that get away from me last year and that’s 100 percent my fault, and no one else to blame but myself,” he said. “But I know I can be better so I want to answer that.”
At the same time, Doan said, having time to reflect since he learned he would no longer be a Coyote has given him a chance to pause and really think about what he wants to do rather than make a rash decision out of a desire to compete and anger.
This is not the first time Doan has had the opportunity to play elsewhere, and if there is a saving grace to the situation it is that he may now get to find a new team that is more competitive than Arizona, thereby giving him a legitimate shot at reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in his career.
Given the freshness of this past weekend, Doan has not thought much about where he could go in order to continue his career, but wants to get an honest idea of what the market is for him and where he could fit.
“If it lines up then yeah,” he said. “Obviously I felt tied and wanted to be a part of the Coyotes for your whole career, and maybe I retire and that’s the way it ends.
“But at the same time, to not have that tie anymore, it’s something that as a player, maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s something that I can go and look at other things and see and be honest with myself. I have enough people around me that are pretty honest with me and will make sure that I’m not making a bad decision.”
The NHL’s free agency period will begin on July 1, so it should not be too much longer before the market for Doan — whatever it is — begins to clear up.
In some ways, perhaps the best thing would be for him to land with a contender, because watching him experience success would likely lessen the sting for many who are upset at seeing him go. While it would be strange to see him in anything other than a No. 19 Coyotes sweater, it may ultimately be for the best.
But even with all that has transpired, Doan said he will not view the Coyotes in a negative light because at the end of the day, Barroway and the franchise are allowed to do what they want, even if he does not agree with the decision.
“The Coyotes, as an organization, are you kidding me? They’ve been over-the-moon great to me,” Doan said. “My whole life here in the Valley is based on the fact that they gave me an opportunity to play, and I am so grateful and thankful for the organization.
“I’m a Coyote; I’m always going to be a Coyote in the NHL, I’m very aware of that. I’m so grateful and thankful for it because I’ve been treated better than a lot of people with a lot more skill than me haven’t been given the same opportunities and the same respect and the same appreciation that people have shown me in the Valley with the fans and with the organization and I am so grateful and so appreciative of that.”
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