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
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
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
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!