January 10, 2013
BONUS: Click here for Doaner Game of Thrones background for your device courtesy The Shadowy One.
BONUS: Click here for Coyotes players reactions to Todd Walsh regarding Shane’s role in the CBA.
BONUS: Click here for Doaner talking with hockey reporter types early in the morning in NYC.
My admiration for Shane Doan is almost embarrassing. Like most people, there are plenty of people I admire, but few that go too far beyond that.
If Teddy Roosevelt walked in the door I could be excused for fawning a little if he decided to speak with me, but everybody else, especially SPORTS people, shouldn’t elicit the awe response. Yet, I find myself in the same position one more time.
It seemed obvious to some of us that Shane had more than a minimal role in negotiations around the NHL collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NHL and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA). When it appeared that negotiations were hopelessly deadlocked, a group of players stepped up to do some negotiating on their own without the help of their representation. One of those players was Coyotes Captain (always capitalized for Doaner) Shane Doan. Suddenly, there appeared to be movement toward instead of away from an agreement.
On the way into one of the CBA negotiation meetings, Shane stopped to chat with a dad and son Coyotes fan combo. He happily stood for a picture with the son. Hockey reporters commented about it, noting how classy Shane was with a degree of surprise. If they were better informed hockey writers, they wouldn’t have been surprised in the least. It’s what Doaner does, he’s the Captain of an NHL hockey team and he embraces the responsibilities and seems to shrug off the perks.
Once the CBA was announced and the excitement died down a little, the mutterings that Shane had something of a pivotal role in the resolution got a little louder. Craig Morgan, a familiar face in the Coyotesphere and somebody that knows Shane, asked him how big his role was in the CBA. Doaner completely deflected the question, as expected. If he didn’t, he’d have to take credit for something pretty special. Further, when asked about the animosity at the CBA negotiations, Craig quotes Doan (click here to read):
“It was actually just a great big kumbaya,” Doan said with that familiar, innocent grin. “Everyone was happy.”
Yeah, okay Shane.
The long and the short of it is, if you want to find out exactly what Shane Doan’s role was in the CBA resolution, you will have to get it from somebody else. It’s not a fake “aw shucks”, either. We know that here in Phoenix, it’s one of the reasons we love the guy.
Big City Papers
I’ve railed over the years about the lack of respect afforded the Coyotes and their Captain over the years, particularly in the local media. When Doaner scored his FIRST career hat trick just over a year ago, it was virtually ignored by local media. Anyone who was lucky enough to have attended that game will talk about it the rest of their lives. Yet, the local sports page carried no giant picture of Shane. Read “The Dangerfielding of Shane Doan” if you feel like rehashing it.
Today, though, Larry Brooks from the New York Post (click here to read) had something to say about our Captain in the middle of his Bettman bashing story. It’s not much, but tells as much of the story of the Coyotes Captain as anything:
The Post has learned that Bettman’s ultimate willingness to listen on the final day of the lockout was the key to ending the stalemate.
Sources report it was a one-hour meeting last Saturday attended by only Bettman, NHL attorney Bob Batterman and the Coyotes’ universally respected Shane Doan that broke the logjam over the critical issue regarding the 2013-14 cap number.
Doan, who left money on the table as a free agent this summer to remain in Phoenix, explained that the league’s proposed $62.5M — increased at that point from the original $60M — would disrupt the lives of players and their families who would be forced to move because of trades and buyouts that would not otherwise take place under the union’s more forgiving $64.3M transition number.
The Coyotes’ winger convinced Bettman and Batterman that the issue wasn’t about financial gain for the players, but on the contrary, for players would inevitably suffer greater escrow loss via a higher cap. It was, Doan said, about family life.
Suitably impressed, the NHL power brokers agreed to meet the NHLPA’s number and by doing so resolved one of the few make-or-break issues that remained between the parties.
The explanation Shane gave to the other side was fair and legit. He explained it wasn’t about greed, it was about the future of the families of players involved. He should know, having just “done the math” on moving his family, uprooting the kids and starting over in a new town. I’m sure he didn’t raise his voice, bully or threaten. He just explained. And it worked.
That’s the way the Captain rolls. We know it here in Phoenix, that’s one of the reasons we admire the guy.
Not A Fluke
I was fortunate to speak with Shane as he, out of breath from a hard skate, headed for a shower on the day before he had to decide to sign with the Coyotes again or pack the family for another city. We (Bea and I) spoke with him at length that day, mostly because we had some information we thought he needed to add into the complicated equation of his eventual decision. For all we know, he had already made that decision. You’d never know it, he asked insightful questions and listened to every word we had to say. He offered us personal information in that conversation, immediately trusting implicitly to keep it to ourselves. He’s one of the most genuine people I have ever met, leaving that impression in just a brief conversation with total strangers.
It was the first time we had met Shane other than in some Coyotes fan event. You’d never know it, though, it was like a family chat about “big stuff”.
Mentioned in the Post piece is that Shane left money on the table to stay with the Coyotes. Some say it was a significant amount of money, I imagine they’re right. I’m sure Coyotes management would disagree, if I’m not mistaken GM Don Maloney cracked “It’s not like he got some blue plate special” deal during the press conference announcing the contract.
What the Post neglects to mention is that Shane also took the “short money” for his PREVIOUS contract. We know that here in Phoenix, it’s one of the reasons we use him as an example for our kids.
Loyalty Sometimes Isn’t Rewarded
The last time Doan’s contract was up for negotiation, there were other offers on his table. The Coyotes, perpetually in financial distress, had an offer that wasn’t as lucrative. The explanation given to Shane at the time was that there simply wasn’t enough money in the till to pay him what he was worth AND hire some heavy scoring talent. So, Shane, if you take a little less, we’ll be able to get you some help putting pucks in the back of the net.
Of course, Shane took less money. There is NO other explanation possible for that move other than loyalty to HIS team.
Scoring talent was hired. Scoring talent was traded. If you were Shane Doan, you would have seen money that by all accounts belonged in your own pocket sent on down the road leaving a team still bereft of snipers and heavy scoring talent. Some of us, probably MOST of us, would have taken that betrayal of loyalty personally and jumped on the first train out of town.
Shane didn’t and continues to be the acknowledged heart of the team.
Times Are Changing
Maybe, just maybe, Doaner’s loyalty and work ethic are finally going to pay off for him. As a professional hockey player, his dreams include hoisting the Stanley Cup. He’s stuck with a team that, honestly, wasn’t a contender for the Cup until the past couple years. The Coyotes remain an underdog, but certainly MUCH less of a long shot than in past years.
GM Don Maloney (GMDM) and Head Coach Dave Tippett have a system that’s starting to pay dividends. The Tippett system suits the personnel GMDM finagles onto the ice. The chemistry in the locker room, due in no small part to the aforementioned Captain, is reportedly great. There’s a defensive corps that’s currently strong and deep in developing talent, they should be the envy of the NHL. Goaltending is in shape and there are even forwards that can get the job done. Anyone that looked without bias at the performance of the Coyotes last year would admit the team will be a contender now into the future.
The prospect of a stellar ownership and management group only cements the wisdom of Shane’s decision to stay.
If Shane Doan hoists the Cup over his head, all of our heads will explode with happiness for him. For HIM, not for us.
Because he earned it.