Arizona Rubber

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Coyotes legend Doan continues to leave legacy on Arizona hockey

 

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The accolades Shane Doan received on the ice were clearly justified, but it is his legacy, the support and involvement in youth hockey, that garners equal acclaim.

One of the iconic figures in Arizona sports history, the former Arizona Coyotes captain transcended play on the ice and became a teacher, an educator and mentor to many.

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Just ask Auston Matthews, the celebrated leader of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Scottsdale native, whose introduction and commitment to hockey was precipitated by Doan’s influence.

“Shane played a big role in my childhood and hockey career,” Matthews said. “He’s a guy I looked up quite a bit.”

Simple, but direct.

That’s likely to be Doan’s legacy. Humble, unassuming, but straightforward and honest. While always cordial with the media and influential with teammates, Doan carried a fierce, competitive nature on the ice and no opposing player felt comfortable competing for a puck with him along the boards.

In a similar vein as Bobby Clarke, the face of the Philadelphia Flyers franchise for the past half-century, Clarke would charm with a smile and warm greeting. At the same time, Clarke would not hesitate to carve up an opportunity when officials were skating up the rink and out of view.

For his fingerprints on hockey in Arizona and weight carried within the Coyotes dressing room, Doan left an indelible mark. Just after his retirement announcement before the start of the 2017-18 season, Doan made sure the culture he established in the Coyotes dressing room was maintained. That meant designating a captain aligned with the character and disposition which Doan carried so well.

When the Coyotes named Oliver Ekman-Larsson captain, the move was made to make Doan’s importance and message seamless. To that end, Ekman-Larsson made sure he went out of his way to maintain the communication aptitudes Doan exhibited for so many years.

“Obviously, these are big shoes to fill from a guy like that,” Ekman-Larsson said. “Even if I tried to do what he did, I’d come up a little bit short. When Shane first talked to me about being captain, he said, ‘Just be yourself,’ and that helped me and why, I guess, they picked me. Be the same guy and keep doing what you do. That’s what he told me and always be yourself.”

When Doan approached Ekman-Larsson to discuss the captainship, the qualities which empowered Doan to interact with players, teach younger players, and communicate with the media, were all woven into the essence of responsibility.

Doan was held in such high esteem by the NHL that when the Coyotes organization traversed through difficult times earlier in this decade, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman placed Doan on the top of his speed-dial menu. If an urgent response from the organization was needed, Bettman first reached out to Doan before any individual wearing starched shirts and ties.

For his part, Doan left the game on his terms. He is one of only a selected few to play over 20 years for the same franchise and not win a Stanley Cup. The biggest ride for Doan was into the 2011 Western Conference Finals when the Coyotes were eventually defeated by the Los Angeles Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

When Ekman-Larsson transitioned from Doan’s legacy, there was no abyss and no evolution. The qualities which Doan brought to the ice and dressing room were found in Ekman-Larsson, and for that reason, Doan’s impact on the game and on the Coyotes is profound.

To that effect, Doan acknowledged the importance of a seamless experience and the need to reward a dynamic and important player.

“Oliver is a special player,” Doan said. “He’s your best offensive player and best defensive player. That’s so rare in the NHL. He has the uncanny ability to have a charismatic personality and that people gravitate. It’s been fairly seamless for him. He earned the captain and just keep doing what you’re doing comfortably and enjoy the responsibilities. It’s a huge honor.”

— Mark Brown

Photo/Norm Hall

(June 28, 2019)