Despite being courted by all of the major contenders in both conferences, Shane Doan has decided to stay with the only franchise he has ever played for, and has inked four-year, 21.2 million dollar contract that will likely take him to the end of his career. The deal, which took over two months to finalize, was in serious jeopardy as the Coyotes’ ownership situation was (and still is) in limbo. However, Doan seems to have capitulated, partly due to the lockout and the uncertainty surrounding the future contract specifications, as well as his desire to end the long process and remain in Phoenix, his top choice throughout. Here’s what Doan had to say about the long overdue signing (via ESPN.com):
“As we went along, you kept thinking it was going to happen next week and I don’t know how many times we heard in two more weeks it’ll be done. Hopefully, in two weeks, it’s done,” Doan said with a chuckle. “At the same time, it did come down to a faith kind of a step and some hope, as well as this is the only organization I’ve been with. This is where I’ve been, this is where I’ve always wanted to be.”
Now for what this means for the Coyotes team this season, if there is one (fingers crossed!). Doan is the unquestioned leader of this team, having worn the “C” for Phoenix since the 2003-2004 season, and being the sole player to make the move from Winnipeg to Arizona in 1996. Further, he is a hustler and a never-say-die player, who inspires his teammates with big hits and effort plays. Doan is no slouch on the offensive end, where he as put up at least 50 points in 11 of his 16 NHL seasons, including his last nine, and has been a 30-goal scorer twice in his career. Moreover, he led the Coyotes to an improbable playoff run last season, along with veteran Ray Whitney (lost to Dallas in free agency), and standout goaltender Mike Smith. Doan had nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 16 playoff games last postseason, and helped lead Phoenix to its first Western Conference Finals appearance in the franchise’s history.
To be sure, the Coyotes would have a huge void to fill if Doan was not resigned. As the face of the franchise, he is the most popular player on a team that occasionally lacks fan interest, and is a veteran who provides energy and leadership to a young team on the rise. With Doan firmly back in the fold, I believe that the Coyotes can still contend for a playoff position, albeit behind being the fourth-best team in the Pacific Division, and could have another surprise playoff run if they can stay healthy and Mike Smith gets hot at the right time. Don’t count out Phoenix with Doan back.