What does it say about the Arizona Coyotes organization that a player that has given his heart, soul, blood and sweat to them for 21 years is considering leaving?
What does it say that a man who is the Captain, the face of the franchise, the only hockey player anyone in Phoenix can really identify with — a player who has watched this team be put in bankruptcy and once signed a four-year deal without knowing who the owner would be — is talking to confidants about being traded?
It says everything you need to know about CEO Anthony LeBlanc, coach/exec VP of hockey operations Dave Tippett and first-year general manager John Chayka. That the three amigos would run an organization so poorly that the one guy who has never wanted to leave now wants to leave is scary.
Make no mistake, Doan is seriously contemplating a trade to a contending team. He told me on Monday that, “I talked with some people close to me about a trade and all I said was it would have to be a perfect situation to even think about it. I ask a couple of hockey people that I get advice from if they thought I was effective enough or capable of helping a team. That’s all.”
I asked him if a perfect situation arose, would he leave?
“Yeah maybe, and even then I would have to talk to my family”
In talking to high-level NHL sources Wednesday, I found out the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens would all be interested in trading for Doan. Because of his family, Doan would not want to be traded before the deadline, but even inside the Doan household, there is a feeling that it is time for him to pursue a championship with another team and leave behind an organization that doesn’t seem to know what they are doing.
The Coyotes have nine wins in regulation this year, they have the second-worst record in the National Hockey League. They don’t have a top-10 player at any position and the younger players have not produced at a level that was expected. Maybe in time this collection of young talent will develop and turn the franchise around, but right now there does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.
Doan, himself, is not having a good year after scoring 28 goals last season. He has four goals and is on pace for eight. He is a fourth-line wing on most contending teams, maybe a third-line player at best on one or two. But he can still help a contending team — not just in the locker room, but on the ice.
He had 12 power play goals last season but this year he barely ever gets to play on the power play. Why? Why is a player who scored 12 power play goals last season not getting the opportunity to help the power play this season?
I spoke with former Coyote Captain Keith Tkachuk and when asked if Doan should seek a trade to a contender said he needs to think about it.
“It’s tough because there is no guarantee its so wide open,” said Tkachuk. “There is no clear-cut favorite. The league is so close. It’s not like it was 10 years ago. But if this is his last year playing, then he should seriously consider it.”
Jeremy Roenick, who spent six years playing with Doan in the desert, also told me it’s time for him to go.
“Yes of course” he said when asked if Doan should accept a trade to another team. “But only if it’s a legitimate contender. Not a team just trying to make the playoffs that needs help.”
Even legendary Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner chimed in about Doan as a guest of the Burns and Gambo show on Tuesday.
“If it’s me and I can go and play and contribute to a championship, I’m doing it,” he said. “As much as I’d want to say ‘hey, Arizona’s my home and I love being here,’ I don’t know if you could ever fault someone for wanting to compete for a championship, ever. I think that’s the bottom line in this game.”
It would hurt to see Doan play in another uniform. But fans here would root for him — unless of course he ended up in Los Angeles. But if he attempts to pull a Ray Bourque, and leave the only team he has known for a championship the way Bourque did leaving Boston for Colorado, no one could fault him.
Doan was offered a 50 percent pay cut after scoring 28 goals last year. His relationship with the new ownership and management is apparently not good. Those close to him say the organization has been “dishonest and self-serving.”
Doan’s time in the NHL is coming to an end and none of us want to see it go out the way it is heading right now. He has not demanded a trade, but that day may come. The Coyotes need to do the right thing here for him and find that “perfect situation” so he can end his career in the playoffs not on the second-worst team in the league.
It will not hurt Doan’s legacy in this market one bit if he is a rental player for a few months for a contender.
He will always be a Coyote. He will always be ours.
Carpe diem, O Captain, my Captain.