As the NHL schedule moves through the coming winter months and toward spring, thoughts tend to revolve around player transactions.
When the trade deadline of February 27 approaches, the usual suspects and a myriad of combinations and possibilities surface. One name that could attract attention is Shane Doan, captain of the Phoenix Coyotes—a reasonable fit for any team in the playoff hunt.
Doan has spent all of his 16 NHL seasons with the same franchise and, for all practical purposes, will likely remain in the desert. Clearly, there are several teams that would like to have “a character player” like Doan, whose value to the franchise is demonstrated on and off the ice.
Last spring, when rumors abounded of the Coyotes' demise in the desert and a possible relocation to Winnipeg, Doan made it clear he would not be happy with any move to the tundra. Still, he appears rejuvenated this season and is off to a strong start.
When the Coyotes acquired center Daymond Langkow in a trade from Calgary for Lee Stempniak on Aug. 29, Doan was reunited with his old teammate. Langkow skated for Phoenix from 2001-2004 and picked up 68 goals in those three seasons.
Now, Doan and Langkow are back together on the same line with Ray Whitney, and Doan has clearly benefited. Through the Coyotes' first five games, Doan picked up three goals and four assists. His seven points were tied for fourth-best in the NHL with 11 other players.
With Doan back in a comfort zone, general manager Don Maloney may entertain deals for Doan as well as other players, but he is not likely to bite. Doan is too much of a fixture in the Phoenix locker room and a force among his teammates to be moved.
Following the Coyotes' 2-0 loss at home to Los Angeles Oct. 20, Doan was far too concerned about the plight of his team to talk about any near or distant transaction. Shut out by the Kings’ Jonathan Quick, the Coyotes generated 28 shots on net but few good chances.
“Right now, we need to find a way to score,” he said after the defeat. “We need to make plays on the power play and capitalize. (The Kings) had their opportunities and made them count. We need to do the same thing.”
When Phoenix coach Dave Tippett coached Doan in the World Championships in 2008, when Doan was the captain of Team Canada, Tippett immediately saw his character and leadership. With that combination, it would be hard to imagine Tippett parting with a player like Doan.
At 34 years old, Doan came to the old Winnipeg Jets as a rookie in 1995 and at the time of this writing is sitting on 299 career goals (not including 10 playoff scores).
As durable as they come, Doan has played in 1,125 games and racked up 1,029 career penalty minutes.
Expect few player transactions in the coming months, but things will certainly heat up by mid February. While several familiar names will surface, Shane Doan is not likely to be among the usual suspects.
NOTE: The quote in this story was obtained by the author following the Los Angeles at Phoenix game Oct. 20, 2011.