My Hawaii hat is off to our Captain Shane Doan

January 2, 2011

Most professional sports teams have captains, the Coyotes are no different. The guy who I thought epitomized the blueprint for a hockey captain has been, for more years than I care to admit, Mark Messier. The Moose played in the NHL for 25 years and captained two different teams to the Stanley Cup Championship. He walked the walk and talked the talk, and is atop or close to the top of nearly every career stat in the NHL. He had mad hockey skills and was capable of (and often did) knocking opponents into next Sunday. Wayne Gretzky played with Messier, some (me, for example) would give credit for a lot of Gretzky’s points to The Moose having his back. Most hockey fans will know Messier, he should always be in the argument for greatest professional hockey player ever, I’ll admit to being annoyed at how few place him at the very top of their lists. My Coyotes jersey even has his name, number 11 and “C” on it (yeah I know it’s cheating). This little blurb isn’t about Messier, though, it’s about our Coyotes Captain Shane Doan.

What got me started thinking about Doaner today, prompting me to spout some nebulous verbosity? Todd Walsh, one of our Coyotes guy for Fox Sports AZ, wrote a moving story a couple days ago about our Captain Shane Doan and his commitment to the community. Walshy is an unabashed Shane Doan fan, and he doesn’t care if anybody notices that maybe he puts journalistic neutrality aside (if there is actually any such thing) once in awhile for Doaner. Click here to read his article, we’ll be here when you get back.

Great stuff, right? The thing to realize about Doan is that he takes his role as the captain of the Phoenix Coyotes seriously, but you have to know that he’d be doing the same things whether he’s captain or not.

The NHL noticed last year and awarded Shane the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. We couldn’t agree more. If you watch the video and Doaner looks a little uncomfortable, cut him some slack because his very real modesty is kicking in (plus he didn’t really get the best haircut before the awards ceremony, it looks like).

Doaner on the cover of The Hockey News

The Hockey News noticed last year and put Doaner on the cover of their magazine, emblazoned with “Captain Fantastic”. Their story gives a few more details on Shane’s upbringing, why he is who he is today, and a few things that he’s done in our community to earn the “‘Fantastic” moniker. I couldn’t find the article online anywhere, but it is a good synopsis of our captain and how he handles hockey life, community life and home life so you should buy a copy of the November 2, 2009 issue. Shane and his wife Andrea were awarded a Pat Tillman Community Leadership award in 2007, and the list goes on. There are a lot of inspring stories about the Doans, I won’t regurgitate them here.

Any time I’ve had the opportunity to attend a Coyotes event where Doan was signing autographs, shaking hands and interacting with the fans; I NEVER saw any look of impatience or watch checking that I’ve seen other players manage. He will stay until the last sweater or program is signed, especially if kids are in attendance. He rarely, if ever, bails out the back door at the practice rink and, with a smile on his face, will work his way through the fans hanging around out front. Is this JUST giving fans their “money’s worth” for buying tickets to watch a team struggling to maintain its relevance in the Phoenix market? I don’t think so, although I DO believe that Shane is conscious that families are spending their hard earned money to watch him play the game he loves.

We went to a Coyotes practice a couple years ago, and I was watching defenseman Keith Yandle pretty closely. Yandle had a well deserved reputation as a bit of a loose cannon, earned with some unbelievably brain farted puck handling (like passing it to the opposition in our own zone for a quick score). There were few, if any, Yandle fans in the Valley. Anyway, at this practice, Yandle was working as hard or harder than anybody on the ice and he stuck around practicing his wristers from the middle of the circle, altough he was using my head on the other side of the glass as a target. What does that have to do with Doan? Yandle looked like, and still does, he had decided to BE Shane Doan and adjust his attitude and his work ethic accordingly. This year he earned an “A” on his sweater, a lot of props from the NHL community and he is currently leading the club in points.

My Hawaii Hat

One of the reasons I’m so sure Yands is working on being a Doan clone and, maybe, wants to be the next captain of the Coyotes when Shane decides to start ranching full-time is a little thing I’ve noticed. Well, maybe not so little. When our National Anthem is being played in the arena, it’s common for players to be fidgeting and shifting around on the bench and on the ice. Some of them, one guy in particular, feels the need to skate off the blue line before the Anthem is completed. Shane Doan, and now Keith Yandle, are the only two guys who will bow their heads slightly and remain perfectly motionless in respect until the last note of the Anthem has faded away. I think it’s tremendous, and not something either one of them does for their own benefit.

Charles Barkley, another local sports figure, has made the famous statement that sports figures should not be considered role models. In his case, it’s very true unless spitting on young girls, stiffing casinos on your gambling debts and driving under the influence are behaviors you consider exemplary. Shane Doan would disagree with Barkley, and his actions and demeanor exemplify that disagreement.

We love this guy

So, why will Shane get my Hawaii hat? I’m not really a hat wearer, but I got a baseball cap in Waikiki that fits great on my unusually outsized gourd and I really like. It’s a ‘Red Dirt’ hat with some cool embroidery on it, and it’s dyed with red dirt. I like my hat a lot, and wear it to Coyotes games all the time.

Shane Doan is not a guy with skills like Sidney or Ovi, we all know that. His star quality lies elswehere, although ignoring his considerable contribution on the ice would be foolish. Watching Doaner play is a pleasure, and there’s NOBODY in the NHL that plays harder than Shane Doan. Shane does not, however, have a hat trick (for hockey noobs that’s three goals in one game) although he has plenty of two goal games. At the Kings game last week, in fact, Doaner was potentially FINALLY going to get his hat trick, coming close AGAIN ringing his potential third goal off the pipe. I had my Hawaii hat on and had pretty much decided I was NOT going to toss it onto the ice if Doan got his third.

 I changed my mind today, he gets the hat when he gets his hat trick. He can have it right now, if he wants it.

UPDATE: Shane Doan finally scored his FIRST career hat trick, in spectacular last-minute fashion, nearly exactly one year after this post was initially written. On January 7, 2012, Shane netted three goals in one game and everybody in the house that night has a memory they will NEVER forget. Congrats, Shane, you earned it!

Read these about Doaner’s hattie:
The Dangerfielding of Shane Doan
After 16 years, Doan finally gets his hat trick