NHL Free Agency: Final Countdown Begins for Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes

John Degroote@john_degrooteCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - MAY 22:  Shane Doan #19 of the Phoenix Coyotes looks on before taking on the Los Angeles Kings in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on May 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Shane Doan has spent much of the tumultuous NHL offseason being the league's most coveted free agent, but that is set to come to an end Friday afternoon.

Doan set the deadline to sign with a team on Sept. 15 over a month ago, and with the league ready to lock out its players at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, and the Phoenix Coyotes' future in the desert still up in the air, Doan will be forced to make a choice between staying with the franchise he was drafted by and has captained since 2003, or moving on to a new franchise where he will more than likely conclude his career.

While on the surface it seems like a lot is going on, not much has changed for the Coyotes captain in his everyday routines.

Doan has been participating in informal skates at the Coyotes' practice rink for the last two weeks with his Coyotes teammates. Doan has been there to welcome new players Steve Sullivan and David Moss, and continues to lead, even though where he will play next season is still up in the air.

According to a USA Today report, Doan’s role has not changed, as of yet, with the Coyotes. Phoenix winger Lauri Korpikoski said:

It doesn't actually feel weird at all. It's so normal that he's there. I don't even think about it that way for me. Obviously he's still the captain until he decides otherwise.

Doan wants to be in Phoenix—he has made that clear.

However, no matter how much the longtime Coyote captain wants to stay in the desert, there are circumstances at play that he cannot control that will be integral in his decision.

Longtime San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison has been the front-runner to buy the struggling Phoenix Coyotes franchise for months now, but the city of Glendale has been unable to secure a deal with Jamison.

According to AOL Sporting News, Jamison is set to have a deal done before the weekend:

Jamison and Glendale city manager Horatio Skeete met Thursday and working on an accord for use of city-owner Jobing.com Arena. Glendale earlier backpedaled on a 20-year, $300 million arena payment package to Jamison. The deal, if it closes on Friday, would also be wrapped up before Saturday's presumed start of an NHL lockout.

Despite the team having its best campaign in franchise history last season, behind closed doors it is a mess. It is really a small miracle that the team has been able to function so well without an owner.

Doan has made it known that he wants to be certain the franchise is staying put, with a reliable owner, before he signs on the dotted line.

According to Sarah McLellan of AZCentral.com, Doan and the Coyotes even have a contract in place and are just waiting for Jamison to officially purchase the team.

Multiple reports have the list down to two for Doan—Vancouver and Phoenix.

Here are some tweets from John Gambadoro of KTAR Phoenix and TSN's Bob McKenzie on Doan's situation:

It is down two - Phoenix and Vancouver. Coyotes Captain Shane Doan will sign a contract deciding where he will play by 5 pm NY time Friday

— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) September 14, 2012


I guess we'll find out soon -- before 5 pm ET -- whether UFA Shane Doan is staying in PHX or going to Vancouver.

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 14, 2012


Doan's decision has the ability to make or break the Coyotes franchise. He has been the face of the franchise for over a decade, and Friday all that was once so familiar may change.

No matter where Doan lands, he will continue to be one of the league's best leaders and a solid point producer. The Phoenix Coyotes are hoping it will continue to be with them.

The clock is ticking.


Follow me on Twitter for updates on all things Arizona hockey, and check out our hockey blog at www.arizonahockeycentral.com!


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