Luis Gonzalez. Steve Nash. Larry Fitzgerald.
All of them pale compared to Shane Doan.
The still owner-less Coyotes and its passionately loyal fan base got their captain back Friday, but the Valley gained something more: the biggest sports legend in Arizona history.
Now, I’m sure there are thousands who are ready to disagree with me and bandy about names like those mentioned above. I’m not taking anything away from those guys and, in fact, I’m a fan of them myself. Their imprint on the Valley will always be remembered, but they’re no Shane Doan.
Let’s look at the situation of each athlete: Gonzo led a wildly popular new team to the city’s only major championship (apologies to the Rattlers and Mercury). Nash stuck by an aging franchise until he was basically forced out. Fitz has sat through mediocre play and some terrible quarterbacking, but nearly led his team to a Super Bowl win.
Gonzo, Nash and Fitz all deserve kudos and their rightful spot among Valley sports legends, but Doan has done more than all of them. He sat loyally at the helm of a literally sinking ship, praying someone would come along and refurbish it to send it again sailing on its way. He watched legends come and go, his team move from the center of town to a cow pasture and was threatened with relocation for years.
Oh, he did all of this while watching his team go from the one of the hottest tickets in town to one of the least popular. Find me one athlete who has led a team in such dire circumstances and still remained as positive and outgoing about the team as Doan. It simply doesn’t happen in a sports world now filled with crybaby divas.
Yes, Doan’s deal is contingent on the sale of the team going through in just eight short days. Yes, the deal could theoretically be abandoned if more foot-dragging occurs. But that’s not a slight against the legacy of Doan. There’s no guarantee he would leave, even if the sale fails by Sept. 15. I doubt he would.
Welcome to the elite of the elite, Shane. You were already a legend in Arizona, but your return to a Coyotes organization still lacking an owner is not only the definition of loyalty and what it means to be captain, but the final piece to making you the greatest Valley sports legend of all time.