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Arizona Coyotes 39-year-old forward Shane Doan is aware of the realities of his game, his age and the business of hockey in general.
He wasn’t fishing for a long-term deal with the team when he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 and instead settled on a one-year contract with the Coyotes.
“I’m just going to kind of re-evaluate every year. You look at the situation I’m in, I’m well aware it’s going to get harder and harder,” Doan said in a Tuesday conference call. “But I enjoy playing. I had fun. The group of guys and the talent and the guys we have in the dressing room. It’s exciting for me and that makes it fun to come to the rink and I’m excited to see what they can do and that really is my whole goal.”
Doan just finished a four-year contract worth $21.2 million. He was drafted seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1995 before the team moved to the Phoenix area and became the Coyotes.
Even though Doan, who turns 40 next Oct. 10 spent Tuesday discussing how he had to accept a lesser role, he’s still a highly productive player
Last season Doan had 28 goals and 47 points, which proved a nice bounce-back from the year before when he scored 14 goals and 36 points. In 2015-16 he set the record for both career goals and career points for the Jets/Coyotes organization.
Doan currently has 945 points and 396 goals in 1,466 career NHL games with the Jets and Coyotes. Last season Doan held a 0.43 score and venue adjusted 5-on-5 CF% Rel and a 47.03 5-on-5 score and venue adjusted 5-on-5 CF%.
Since Doan signed his last contract, the Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs. In 2014-15 they finished with the second-worst record in the NHL and are in the midst of rebuilding with youngsters Anthony Duclair and Max Domi as centerpieces.
“This is an on-ice move,” Arizona GM John Chayka said. “Shane Doan had a great year. The way he impacts our team overall and all our players, I think they’re all better players because of Shane and they’re all more impactful to the team and organization as a whole.”
Doan’s presence with the Coyotes goes off ice as well. He’s known as one of the NHL’s top citizens and a role model for the team’s younger players.
“We expect our players to be involved in the community and give back and Shane has been nothing but the consummate pro and we want our players to be like that as well,” Chayka said. “To have him leading the way on and off the ice is a huge win.”
Doan said he decided he would return for 2016-17 about one month after 2015-16 ended. Following the season, the Coyotes fired general manager Don Maloney and replaced him with Chayka, a then 26-year-old analytics whiz who had spent a year with the organization as assistant GM.
The change in management didn’t shift Doan’s opinion of Arizona. Overall he was impressed with the way Chayka handled the negotiations.
“John Chayka was incredible with me and my agent as were (coach) Dave Tippett and the ownership,” Doan said. “They were all overly cordial and overly generous and good to me. It’s not like I ever had any anxiety about it. It was one of those things we knew would eventually get done.”
Doan said other teams fielded calls to him about his services but he quickly told all of them that he was going to re-sign with the Coyotes.
“I didn’t want anyone to waste their time worrying about me until I came to a position where I thought it was something that was really viable,” Doan said. “I appreciated the calls and I was grateful but at the same time I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time and I wanted to make sure I could stay with Arizona if they wanted me and that was kind of the goal.”
Doan didn’t make any declarations that the upcoming season would be his final NHL year. Last season was tied for his third-best goal scoring year of his NHL career, which proved he still has a lot left in the tank.
As long as he and the Coyotes see value in staying together they will continue to make their relationship work on a year-to-year basis.
“We’re in the business of paying for future performance, that’s the trick. Anyone can really say ‘well this player has done this and done that’ and our vision and our goal is to try to extrapolate what that player will do in the future.’ That’s not just Shane Doan of course that’s every player and that’s a part of the analysis of course,” Chayka said. “It is the belief that Shane helps us win helps make us a playoff team and that’s our goal. When he’s able to help us achieve those that’s where the partnership approach comes into it.”
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