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Doan: Players trying to find learning curve in evolving NHL

The Valley and the rest of the NHL nation are still discussing the hit Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres laid on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa.

While the discussions on the legality and possible suspension time will continue on long after the probable sentence is handed down, Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan said a lot of guys in the league will still be working on their learning curve when it comes to the same physical game being played in an evolving NHL.

“Guys are trying to not hurt and anyone and stay within the boundaries, but [the league] is adding things to [the game] right now and we’re trying to find the learning curve,” Doan told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Show on Wednesday.

While some would argue that Doan, a long-time veteran of the league along with Torres and other heavy hitters, should know ins and outs of physical hockey by now, he may have a fair point. The NHL Office of Player Safety appointed a new head, former NHLer Brendan Shanahan, at the inception of this season, who promised to crack down on malicious hits. As a result, there has been a varied and almost random assigning of suspensions and fines this season.

Though Doan said he agrees with what the league is doing, there may be some wiggle room in the system to improve it as a whole.

“There’s also a fine of, if it’s a hockey play, I think that there should be more of an element of freedom in [the hit] being a hockey play,” he said. “If it’s a cheap shot, then yes, I want the league to step in. But if it’s a hockey play, then there’s an element of intensity and emotion that comes in our sport.”

Doan, no stranger to injury and big hits being put on him, said that injuries are a part of hockey, but no one wants to see an injury akin to the one witnessed in Chicago on Tuesday.

“If you don’t want to get hurt, then we shouldn’t play if we’re really scared of being hurt and at the same time, nobody wants to see a guy like Marian Hossa carried off on a stretcher. I mean, it makes you sick to your stomach and your thoughts and prayers are with him.”

Despite the learning curve that modern NHL players are presented with, Doan said he knows why the league is evolving.

“It’s hard because I understand the league has the players’ health at heart,” he said. “They want to make sure everyone is healthy and able to play our game and, by all means, I think that is very important.”