Some people think that the Phoenix Coyotes have an image problem.
That might be the greatest understatement in modern sports history.
As a sports franchise, they look like a mix of the Titanic and FEMA under the Bush administration. The problem with their franchise are not the workers (staff, coaches, players). In fact, their staff lead by GM Don Maloney and Coach Dave Tippett are as close to miracle workers as you can find. They have persevered and come through in the toughest of times to make the Phoenix Coyotes a perennial playoff contender.
The problem is with the ownership of the team throughout the years and the City of Glendale. Steve Ellman, Jerry Moyes, the NHL, etc. have made this team a circus.
Yes, the team is siphoning money. Yes, the team for years was not ideally situated in a building that had obstructed view seats. Yes, the team is located in the middle of a desert, not exactly the most hockey crazy environment you find in today's game. And yes, the City of Glendale has tried repeatedly to scuttle any and every deal that would keep the team in the desert for years to come.
This offseason has been a complete disaster as former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison and his on again, off again pursuit of the team has been complicated by the City of Glendale's ineptitude and Jamison's lack of capital investment partners.
Over the past year, not much off the ice has gone well for the Coyotes. This was the case until September when the Coyotes re-signed Captain Shane Doan to a four-year, $21.2 million deal that will keep the forward in a Coyotes sweater for the entirety of his playing career.
If the Coyotes were going to continue to be relevant on and off the ice, retaining their Captain was priority number one. Shane Doan is the face of the franchise. His relentless pursuit of excellence on the ice, combined with his affable personality off of the ice, made him priceless to the Coyotes franchise.
With the franchise in flux, losing the main guy who wanted to make it work in the Valley of the Sun more than anything would have signaled the impending doom of the franchise. Doan loves Phoenix. His family has settled there for a long time now and did not want to leave.
His kids are entrenched in school and disrupting that would have been difficult for the family. His regular guy, family man persona is what has made him as popular as he is in the Phoenix Metro area. He is the antithesis of the modern athlete. He is approachable, down to earth, stays out of trouble and is honest to a fault sometimes.
He is revered by his teammates and anyone that ever has played with him has nothing but positive things to say about him. Even guys who he competes against, know and respect his reputation.
His leadership as Captain has never been openly questioned because he leads by example. His ability to lead on and off the ice was recently rewarded at this past summer's NHL Awards Show where he was awarded the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. His desire to lead a troubled franchise makes him the person to carry the Coyotes forward as the near future approaches.
When the NHL lockout finally ends, the Coyotes will hopefully return to play next season in Phoenix. Doan will be the man leading this team onto the ice. Many season ticket holders were waiting to see how his contract situation played out before making the financial investment into the Coyotes for next season. When Doan re-signed, many felt that the future of the team was safe and began to think about re-upping their tickets.
The weight that Shane Doan must bare is massive, but he has always seemed up to the task. Many would have packed up and ran to a Stanley Cup contender who would fill their coffers. But, not Shane Doan. His commitment to the Coyotes organization reflects his core values as a man and his desire to bring this team closer to its ultimate goal: winning Lord Stanley's Cup and bringing it to the desert.