On Thursday night, I saw something I never thought I would see before: a Shane Doan who was mad, not at himself, not at referees, but his teammates.
And it’s about damn time.
The Phoenix Coyotes are currently in the midst of a five-game skid, the longest in years. In those games, they set a new record for the longest time without a goal (245:33), took a total of 26 penalties and gave up 11 goals in regulation.
After a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Thursday, the Coyotes held a team meeting for about 25 minutes. When media were finally let in, it was clear the captain was not happy with his team. Many of the guys walked out, subdued, and didn’t look at anything but the floor.
“The thing that makes our team good is when every single guy is good,” Doan said, looking over the heads of media at his guys filing out of the room.
“I don’t care what line you’re on, I don’t care what defensive pairing you’re on, in order for us to have any type of success, individually we have to be good.”
To me, this sounded like Doan had called out a few guys during the meeting. Of course, he wouldn’t go on to point fingers. He shouldn’t. But this season’s Coyotes team isn’t what a lot of us expected, Doan included.
The 2011-2012 Coyotes team was a different beast. Not only did they take the team on its longest playoff run in franchise history, but they shocked the NHL. An ownerless team rode veterans, role players and Mike Smith to the Western Conference Final. That doesn’t happen in the NHL.
But that team disbanded. The offseason has come back to bite the team in the butt. The loss of key players led to the Coyotes signing Steve Sullivan, David Moss and depending on AHL call-ups. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still talented, but not along the same caliber as those who left the desert.
Doan is frustrated. After being promised the sale of the Coyotes would be completed, he signed a deal with Phoenix instead of leaving for more money. He was expecting an owner that would bring in quality players, setting him up for his fourth consecutive playoff run.
But the deal fell through and the Coyotes did what they could to surround Doan with guys he can work with. They all have talent in their own right, but a team that relies on everyone contributing is being tripped by a few lame ducks.
“Individually, we have an element that we can pick up in every single guy,” said Doan. “Every single guy can be better at some point.”
Likely some more than others. I didn’t see any other player posting both double-digit hits and shots on Thursday against the Kings.
Truth be told, we’ll never know what was said in that meeting. That’s fine. Let the guys work it out amongst themselves, but don’t expect anymore Mr. Nice Guy in the Coyotes room. His team is under performing and Doan knows it. And now they’re going to hear it.
The captain’s claws are coming out and he can’t get his team going soon enough. There’s only 18 games left in the regular season and his team is on the outside looking in. If they don’t shape up, I foresee a lot of long nights standing in the underbelly of Jobing.com Arena, waiting for the end of another team meeting.