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Shane Doan's impact on Arizona Coyotes, Valley extends beyond on-ice exploits

Craig Morgan Avatar
August 31, 2023
Coyotes and Valley icon Shane Doan had his number retired in 2019.

André Tourigny did not know Shane Doan when the two worked together for the first time for Team Canada at the 2021 World Championship in Riga, Latvia; Doan as assistant GM, Tourigny as assistant coach.

Tourigny knew that he might be getting a call from Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong about the franchise’s vacant head coaching position, but Doan didn’t know that when Tourigny began casually questioning him about life and hockey in Arizona. 

“He talked to me a lot about the Valley and how passionate he was about it; how much potential he thought there was,” Tourigny said. “We talked about values, philosophy, culture, what has to be done with the rebuilding process and everything else.”

Less than a month after Canada captured the gold medal, the Coyotes named Tourigny the eighth coach in franchise history. Add him to the register of gifts that Doan has helped bestow upon the state of Arizona, the Coyotes franchise and the NHL.

“I did not know anything about Arizona,” Tourigny said. “My first real connection on the inside was Doaner and he was just so genuine. He really cares about people and he really cares about the Valley. He absolutely helped recruit me.”

As PHNX Sports continues to roll out its top 25 Arizona athletes of all-time, Doan checks in at No. 9. Some might argue that he belongs even higher. Doan is the rare case where the intangibles make the player greater than the sum of his athletic achievements.

He is not the greatest player ever to lace up skates for the Coyotes, although he is the all-time leader in games played (1,540), goals (402), assists (570), points (972), power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (69). He is, however, the greatest captain of them all — a player whose relentless drive helped galvanize a less talented group of players into the greatest run in franchise history. He is an ambassador who helped end an NHL lockout and save the franchise from relocation. He is an impossibly good soul whose humanity, generosity and genuine engagement with everyone whom he met helped him transcend a lesser-appreciated sport and somehow become a Valley icon.

“We’ve been taught that you have to earn respect but if you reach a certain point in what you have achieved, you may think you have arrived and it can be pretty lonely if you’re expecting that respect,” Doan said. “I don’t think you can earn respect. The only thing you can do is give it. People ask me what respect is and I say, ‘It’s valuing people.’ If you value people and give them your time and attention, you might be respected.

“The way I have tried to look at it is – and it’s not like I have always done it successfully – is because I have been given so much, that is why I’ve been able to give so much back. You can only give from what you have, but if you don’t think you’ve been blessed or privileged, if you don’t see that, then it’s hard to give. And for me, it also comes down to God. I recognize that by the grace of God I was given all of that, whether it was being born in Canada where they love hockey or filling out to 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. On top of that, I’m playing a sport. How can you have too bad a day when you’re playing hockey in the NHL? Don’t ever lose sight of that. That’s a privilege, too. I think you can make everything miserable if you want to, but there are people that would give anything to do what we do.”

There are so many Doan stories to tell. We chose a handful for the PHNX Coyotes show on Thursday, and I chose 19 when the Coyotes retired No. 19’s jersey back in 2019 at Gila River Arena.

Here are some excerpts from a trio of them.

How Doan helped end the lockout

Gary Bettman can’t recall specific details of a meeting in January 2013. The NHL commissioner attends a lot of meetings.

What Bettman does remember about this particular meeting is that he trusted the guy across from him at the negotiating table. The New York Post reported at the time that a one-hour meeting attended only by Bettman, NHL attorney Bob Batterman and Coyotes captain Shane Doan broke the logjam over a critical issue regarding the 2013-14 cap number. Bettman can’t remember how many people were in the room. Doan said there were actually five or six.

There were issues to resolve in the waning days of a bitter labor dispute that had turned the start of the 2012-13 season into a lockout that stretched into the new year. This particular meeting ultimately produced the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement, and Bettman’s prior relationship with Doan was a big reason why the sides were able to break the stalemate.

“I’ve had strong relationships with a number of players but this was a unique circumstance because, if you remember, we owned the club,” Bettman said of a four-year run from 2009-13 during which the NHL owned the Coyotes before IceArizona purchased them.

“When you have a difficult negotiation, having a strong relationship helps. He also had a little experience negotiating a contract with me indirectly, which was the contract that kept him personally in Arizona. I believe that he and we both wanted to get to a resolution and get the games playing again. But I think his straightforward approach and the fact that he is so passionate about the game was absolutely instrumental in helping us resolve it.”

Coyotes legend Shane Doan transcended his sport.

Remembering Doan’s first hat trick

Shane Doan skated to the bench with a grim smile creasing his face. The clock was running out, and so was his strength. The Coyotes captain appeared destined for an individual NHL record that nobody wants — the most career two-goal games without a hat trick.

He had tried everything from voodoo to prayers to break the streak. He had even altered the bizarre, specially made, curved knob at the end of his stick — the one teammate Ray Whitney referred to as an ax handle.

“It was the ugliest thing I have ever seen,” Whitney said.

Doan had scored the first two goals of the game – one in the first period and one in the second – to stake the Coyotes to an early lead against the New York Islanders on Jan. 7, 2012. The goals were significant because the games were significant. The Coyotes entered the game having lost six of their last seven to fall four points off the playoff pace in the Western Conference. As they approached the All-Star break, only four teams had fewer points in the West.

“We needed wins, and that was the biggest thing on my mind,” Doan said.

In this moment, however, his teammates and his coach, Dave Tippett, had an additional priority.

“I just kept putting him back out there,” Tippett chuckled. “And Whits was right there with him.”

Doan logged a whopping 21:15 of ice time in that game and his teammates kept trying to find him for that elusive third goal.

“It was getting embarrassing,” Doan said.

In his final extended shift of the game, Doan had already been on the ice for two-plus minutes when Whitney saw both an opportunity, and the challenge in taking advantage of that opportunity.

“He’s been up and down the ice so much and that’s a big frame to be chugging around the ice that long,” Whitney said. “You could tell he was getting tired. I get back on the ice in the last 30 seconds, the puck gets turned over to the Islanders and I can see he’s going to give up. He just can’t do it anymore. Then the puck turns over again and I look at him and I scream, ‘Let’s go!’

“He looks at me like he can’t believe I’m asking him to do this again, but he dragged that big ass of his up the ice one more time and then we cut to the middle to cross. He knew exactly what I was doing and I knew exactly what he was doing. We had practiced it before and I told him, ‘You shoot the puck so hard that when we cross, it doesn’t matter how far out it is. If you can one-time it, chances are a goalie isn’t going to get it.’”

Doan had to collect Whitney’s pass, but he released the shot quickly and he got all of it, beating Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov with one-tenth of a second on the clock in a 5-1 win.

The drama didn’t end there, however. Because the goal came so late, officials had to review it to make certain it had beaten the final horn.

“I went over and told the refs, ‘Listen, it’s been a long time. It’s been 16 years. Tell Toronto that this may never happen again, so make sure this counts,’” Whitney said.

“I’m not sure if Toronto was doctoring the tape to make sure it looked good, but it counted. I don’t think anybody has worked harder or longer to get a hat trick in the NHL, being a top-six forward.”

With Shane Doan as captain, the Coyotes engineered the best run in franchise history from 2009-2012.
ANAHEIM, CA – NOVEMBER 07: Shane Doan #19 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates his goal with Keith Yandle #3 to trail 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center on November 7, 2014 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

How Doan saved the Coyotes

More recent Coyotes fans know just how much Doan was out front to promote the franchise’s proposed Tempe arena. Doan literally went from function to function. He met with community officials and he recorded an ad with GM Bill Armstrong.

It wasn’t the first time Doan made his pitch to save the Coyotes. Bettman said that in the four seasons that the league owned the team, Doan was his conduit to the locker room, keeping everyone informed, separating fact from fiction amid all the relocation rumors, and keeping the team focused on the task at hand.

“He was instrumental in us keeping the team functioning at a high level and just as importantly, I think he learned that he could trust us because we had that direct relationship,” Bettman said. “Shane is a great leader, a terrific captain and vital to the organization, so as important as it was for him to be able to talk to us, it was important for us to know that he was providing stability within the locker room.”

When a player is fêted on one of these lists or in some form a ceremony, the hype often exceeds reality. When it comes to the Coyotes’ continued existence in Arizona, the hyperbole does not match the man.

“There are so many qualities that Shane possesses that everyone in our game admires,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “He was a very talented hockey player. He’s a great teammate and team player. He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen in our game — on the ice and off. But, most importantly, he’s a great human being — humble, caring, hard-working, committed, principled and honest.

“They don’t make better people than Shane Doan. His leadership role with the Coyotes’ franchise, both over the duration of his career but particularly in the latter stages, is one of the primary reasons the team is still here. We are all indebted to him for that.”

Top photo of Shane Doan via Getty Images

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