Photo credit: @pjbreenphoto
By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Sunday, February 24, 2019
GLENDALE, Ariz. — During the last few seasons of his NHL career, Shane Doan occasionally mentioned his love for the game. So much, he said, “I’ll play in a no-checking rec league.” Now retired for two seasons, Doan said that, in fact, he located one.
“It’s in north Scottsdale. I play once a week or so,” Doan explained on the night his number was retired by the Arizona Coyotes. “We have fun.”
Asked if other players were a little intimidated by having an NHL veteran in the league, Doan smiled and said, “I don’t shoot!”
In his 21 seasons in the NHL, Doan did plenty of shooting in his 1,540 games for the Winnipeg/Arizona franchise, scoring 402 goals, 570 assists and 972 points — all team records. But as one former teammate after another pointed out in their comments, it was more than the numbers that made Doan a special teammate.
Tyson Nash, a former teammate who does commentary on Coyotes TV, said during the lengthy pregame ceremony, “When I look up at that jersey, it won’t be the goals, assists and points. I will remember the stories, the dinners, the card games, the celebrations, the losses, the inside jokes, the wrestling matches, the smile.
“He’s the best person I ever got to call my friend, my teammate and my captain. I love you buddy,” Bettman said, “As I got to know Shane over the years, I’ll tell you a couple of things: 1) He is truly a great guy with incredible integrity, and 2) this franchise wouldn’t be here without him.”
Video tributes came from a list including everyone from former Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt to former teammates Jeremy Roenick and Keith Yandle to Garth Brooks.
Roenick said, “Not only was he a phenomenal hockey player, he was an incredible leader, teammate and most importantly, a great friend. Shane Doan, you are what people aspire to.”
Other touches: Doan’s No. 19 also painted on the ice behind each goal cage in the trapezoid. There was no shortage of banners throughout the crowd that also had a noticeable number of banners, including “Doan’t Stop Believing’,” while many had simple Thank you’s. Both the Jets and Coyotes players wore No, 19 on the back of their jerseys during the pregame skate, which will be put up for charity auction.
After comments from Bettman, Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen, current Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson, former Coyote Daniel Briere, Doan stepped to the podium at center ice.
“Being with one organization for 22 years was very special,” he said, adding that he wanted to thank his parents for “dedication, support and their work ethic.”
Doan gave a shout out to the commish, and the team’s numerous former owners (including the NHL itself) “for having the vision to put a team here.”
Addressing his approach to hockey and life, Doan recalled an old, favorite proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And the only reason that I’m here and the only reason I’m celebrated is because of everything that everyone sacrificed around me.”
Doan mentioned his children, saying, “My kids sacrificed so much for me. … My children are truly amazing. They’re funny, they have empathy, they love each other. They are truly phenomenal.”
On his wife, Andrea, “I met her in the parking lot at a 7-11. Couldn’t take my eyes off of her!
“Strong tough, married a hockey player. She had to be! The game was always demanding of our time. Andrea was always great for me in every single way.”
Doan said, “Hockey taught me when I’m tired to keep going. It humbled me, and gave me more joy than I could ever imagine. … I played because of The Creator. I didn’t choose any of these things, but I benefited from them all.”
In true Doan style, he said, “I was never a superstar, I just kept hanging around, which is good; I would have been a lousy cowboy anyway. So, I kept playing hockey.”
Doan received a custom No. 19 golf cart, unveiled with Oliver Eckman-Larsson, and a custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle, With that, his No. 19 was raised to the rafters with thunderous applause, cheering and another standing ovation.
When Doan and the Coyotes parted ways in 2017, it didn’t end well when the veteran reluctantly waived his no-trade clause near the trading deadline and there were no takers. Soon after, the Coyotes informed Doan they weren’t bringing him back. He retired soon afterward. Time healed that wound, and the time finally arrived for the Coyotes to honor “The Captain.”
After the ceremony, Doan, as is his nature, said “I had a hard time even walking out onto the ice because I didn’t feel comfortable with all the attention.”
As the chairs and mats were being removed, the public address announcer proclaimed, “One more time, Give it up for the Captain — Shane Doan!” Frankly, the crowd didn’t have to be asked.