As the drama surrounding the Phoenix Coyotes continues, one constant that the Coyotes have always depended on is Shane Doan. Doan, the team's captain, has spent all 17 years of his hockey career with the franchise and many thought he would retire a Coyote. Fans in the Valley of the Sun felt that there was no way that the face of the franchise could leave, even if he tested the waters this summer in free agency. That all could have changed over the weekend.
Saturday, the Phoenix Business Journal, ran a story that painted a very bleak picture not only for the Coyotes franchise, but for the future of it's captain. Prospective owner Greg Jamison is allegedly $20 million short in his attempts to reach the $170 million asking price that the NHL has placed on the Phoenix Coyotes. While the article stresses that Jamison is still seeking investors and that the NHL is still publicly backing his bid to buy the team, it might be too late in the game to prevent the most sought after free agent left on the market and the heart and soul of the Coyotes from leaving.
The 36 year-old Doan has given the franchise every indication that Phoenix is the place that he wants to re-sign. But, he wanted assurances from Jamison that the team would be financially healthy and that the team would remain in Phoenix for the foreseeable future. Doan set up dates for meetings with Jamison as the summer free agent period began trying to obtain status updates on the future of the franchise. According to reports from various media sources, Jamison either did not give Doan the news he wanted to hear or asked Doan to push back the meetings to a later date.
Doan acquiesced and pushed back those meetings multiple times, placing potential suitors on hold, as he waited for the news from Jamison that the Coyotes franchise was going to stay in the desert for good. Doan and Jamison had a discussion this weekend according to the Phoenix Business Journal and at that point, Jamison must have informed Doan of the current financial situation.
According to The Province, a newspaper in British Columbia, Canada, Doan acknowledged a recent conversation with the team. “We’ve talked,” Doan told Kamloops radio station CHNL. “[General manager] Don Maloney and [coach] Dave Tippett have been great. Their hands are pretty much right tied now with the fact that I kind of want to have a little bit more stability than what is there. The reason I want to go back is because of management and the way they’ve kind of set our team up.”
At his client's behest, Doan's agent, Terry Bross, has downplayed the issues surrounding the franchise all summer. Bross has consistently stated that if the Coyotes and Jamison told Doan what Doan was hoping to hear, that Doan would re-sign with the team, most likely finishing his career with the franchise he started it with. But, as the summer has continued, Bross has been more blunt in his discussions with the media about obtaining the best possible deal for his client in the open market if Doan told him to open up his search for a new team.
Unfortunately for Coyotes fans, that time is now.
Allegedly, Doan has had interest from as many as 16 teams. There have been multiple teams who have at one time led the race to land his services: Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks. Some of those teams are said to have dropped out at this point. Doan has even met with some of the teams on the list according to media reports. One thing that remains important though for Doan, is that each one of those destinations gives him the immediate chance to get back into the playoff picture with the potential of a Stanley Cup run in the near future.
The major obstacle for a few of those franchises in play for Doan is going to be the salary he commands from his new employer. Doan made $4.55 million last season for the Coyotes and according to multiple media reports, he has been offered in the range of $30 million over four years ($7.5 million per season) from at least one team in the hunt. Doan himself was rumored to have been seeking that much to leave the Coyotes, making it difficult on those pursuing him and making Coyotes fans feel like they had a legit chance of retaining him. For Doan's level of production (22 goals/50 points), anything over $5 million a year is a gamble taking all things into consideration.
Whether those reports are correct or not, Doan will make considerably more money on the open market than he did last season and if a bidding war does begin for his services, that number might approach the rumored number earlier this summer of $7.5 million per season. This might price out some of his suitors like the Canucks, Kings and Red Wings if they cannot make other roster moves to accommodate his signing.
Doan cannot be blamed for leaving. He has done everything in his power to remain a Phoenix Coyote and if there is anyone associated with the franchise that deserves to leave after all of the effort that he has put it, it's Doan. There has never been a more loyal Coyote and it is sad that it has come to this juncture in which the franchise is forcing him into a very difficult position. For Coyotes fans, this day will be marked as one in which the franchise will look back with regret if Doan ends up walking away based on the team's finances. It could also mark the beginning of the end for the Coyotes as a whole.