Doan inspired growth of Arizona hockey community

Aug 31, 2017, 4:26 PM

Although Coyotes forward Shane Doan officially announced his retirement, his legacy will live on. M...

Although Coyotes forward Shane Doan officially announced his retirement, his legacy will live on. Many young players in the Valley have said they are playing hockey become of him. (Photo courtesy NHL)

(Photo courtesy NHL)

PHOENIX — After Coyotes forward Shane Doan announced his retirement in a letter to the team and his fans, members of the Arizona hockey community reflected on the impact he had on the sport locally.

The Coyotes’ all-time leader in goals (402), assists (570) and games played (1,540) made a lasting impact on hockey in the desert.

After Winnipeg drafted him in 1996, and then relocated the team to the Valley, Doan played 21 years with the same organization and inspired a whole generation of young Arizonans to play the sport.

One example is Auston Matthews, who finished his rookie season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017 after growing up in the Valley.

Greg Powers, Arizona State men’s hockey coach, said that many of the local players “grew up idolizing” Doan and that his team greatly enjoyed watching Matthews coming back home to play against the veteran.

“You could just see the level of respect that he had for him,” Powers said about Matthews.

Responding to a tweet from the NHL announcing Doan’s retirement, Matthews wrote “My childhood idol growing up. Amazing player and an even better person. Congrats on an unbelievable career Doaner!”

Matthews is one of many Arizona natives inspired to lace up skates and pick up a stick because of Doan. The 2016-17 Arizona hockey season saw a 60 percent increase in youth hockey registration since the 2013-14 season, according to a report by USA Hockey.

Bruce Urban is the general manager of AZ Ice’s Gilbert facility, which hosts a variety of the increasing youth participants in hockey competitions. He said the few times that Doan has come to his rink to talk to kids, the importance of having such a figure in the community for the sport was clear

“He’s been in the facility, and just like a pied piper, kids run and flock to him,” Urban said. “They know the Shane Doan name, and being the star that he is, I’m sure there have been plenty of kids interested in playing because of him.”

Doan established a tradition in a hockey market that had little before, similar to what the ASU team is trying to do. Powers said the dedication Doan had to the Valley was an example of how to properly establish a hockey culture in a non-traditional market.

“At ASU it’s ‘Be the tradition,’ and that’s what we tell every single one of our kids when they come in,” he said. “Shane Doan did that on the highest level.”

With nothing but positives to say about his experience as a Coyotes player, Doan praised the organization in his letter to the team.

“I also want to thank the Coyotes, who provided me the opportunity to stay in the Valley for 21 years. That’s one of the most meaningful accomplishments of my career, and I’ll forever cherish the friendships I’ve made along the way,” he wrote.

The Coyotes issued the following statement regarding Doan’s retirement announcement, thanking him for his time with the organization:

“On behalf of the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, our fans and our corporate partners, we would like to thank Shane for everything that he’s done for our franchise over the past 21 years. Shane had an incredible career on the ice and we are very proud of everything that he accomplished in a Coyotes uniform. He will be remembered as one of the greatest captains in NHL history. Off the ice, Shane was a great ambassador for growing the game of hockey in Arizona and his contributions to the community are immeasurable. Shane will be a Coyote for life. Thank you Captain!”

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.

3 years ago

Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...

Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.

4 years ago

(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...

Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.

4 years ago

New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...

Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.

4 years ago

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...

Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

4 years ago

Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...

Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.

4 years ago

Doan inspired growth of Arizona hockey community