GLENDALE, Ariz. — I don’t believe this will be Shane Doan’s last season in a Coyotes uniform. He’s leading the team in goals (19), he claims another franchise record every month, he’s finally healthy and the Coyotes’ young players have re-energized his outlook.
The only thing missing in my belief that he will return next season is Doan’s confirmation. I tried to get that on Tuesday. I noted all the aforementioned realities and I asked shamelessly leading questions before asking him point blank if he was returning.
Doan laughed. Then he laughed some more. That’s when I realized I wasn’t getting an answer.
“There are days where I think ‘for sure I’m coming back’ and there are other days where I think, ‘no way,'” he said.
So we’ll have to wait until the offseason for an answer?
“It could be prior,” he said, “but I don’t know.
“I really am enjoying playing this season and I’ll be playing somewhere else in town, away from all the attention, if I do retire. That’s never been in doubt because I love to play the game.
“At the same time, my family has sacrificed a lot. A lot of couples start families later so there’s not as much asked of them but my kids and my wife, they have full-time lives now. They’re really busy. They want me to keep playing but at the same time I want to see what they’re doing. I don’t want to miss all of that.”
I don’t doubt Doan’s commitment to family; not for a second. I’m still sticking by my belief that he will be back, but let’s play along with the alternative scenario for just a moment. If this is Doan’s swan song, could he have scripted a better individual ending?
He netted his second career hat trick on Dec. 29 against the Chicago Blackhawks (you remember how long it took to get the first). Two days later, fans honored that hat trick by throwing scores of hats onto the ice, including a cowboy hat that Doan donned with a giant grin. Later that night, the face of the franchise broke Dale Hawerchuk’s franchise record for goals against the team with which Hawerchuk set that mark, Winnipeg — and it came on an assist from the future face of the franchise, Max Domi. The owners even got in on the action, handing Doan a $100,000 check to launch the Doan Arizona Youth Hockey Fund.
“Every athlete has an ego so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it,” he said. “I don’t think people necessarily enjoy too much attention but at the same time you appreciate it a lot and you also feel awkward at times.”
Sometime soon, Doan will break Hawerchuk’s franchise record for power-play goals (they’re tied at 122) and points (Doan is one behind Hawerchuk’s mark of 929), putting him in line for even more adulation and accolades in this season of Shane.
“He deserves it,” coach Dave Tippett said. “When you look at what he’s done for this franchise, it’s incredible. His personal characteristics equal his abilities as a hockey player. That’s an unbelievable combination. To do it for one organization for 20 years is incredible.”
If you read any rumors about Doan going elsewhere at the trade deadline to chase a Cup, ignore them. It’s not happening. Doan has said so; GM Don Maloney has said so.
“We’ve talked to his agent and we’ve said at the end of the year we’ll sit down and talk and if he’s feeling good about things then I’m sure we’ll find a way to get a contract done,” Maloney said. “He’s not going anywhere unless he wants to go somewhere.”
Doan still wants a Stanley Cup. He wants it desperately, but if it doesn’t happen in his remaining NHL tenure in Arizona, he has the wisdom and perspective to understand that his cup is still full.
“I always want to play and I always want to win but I’ve been more than blessed,” he said. “I’ve had an amazing career and have enjoyed my teammates, the staff, the coaching, the fans and the city. I’ve gotten more than my fair share so I’d better be satisfied.”
Canucks at Coyotes
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus, Sportsnet 1
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Season series: Tied, 1-1
Probable goalies: Canucks — Ryan Miller. Coyotes — Louis Domingue.
Injury report: Canucks — F Brandon Sutter (fractured jaw) and D Alex Edler (fractured fibula) were injured Tuesday in Denver. Coyotes — C Boyd Gordon (hand) is week to week. G Mike Smith (abdominal surgery) and F Joe Vitale (concussion symptoms) are out.
Scouting the Canucks: Vancouver has lost 32 of 53 games this season between regulation (20), overtime (9) and shootout (3) losses. Still, the Canucks are within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division. … Vancouver snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) with a win Tuesday at Colorado. … Former Coyote F Radim Vrbata has just 11 goals and 22 points in 51 games and is being mentioned as possible trade bait since he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Vrbata was demoted to the team’s fourth line for Tuesday’s game in Denver. … F Daniel Sedin leads the team with 21 goals and 44 points.