For two decades they’ve allowed him to pursue his passion. And as he prepares to finish another year with the only organization he has ever played for, the 39-year-old Doan knows the time is coming where he needs to give back to his wife and kids.
“My wife has put her life on hold for 21 years,” Doan said. “I’m conscious and aware of all that and need to be cognizant that at some point you have to be able to give a little bit yourself.”
If Doan decides to call it quits after this year – he’s an unrestricted free agent – he’s shown that he’ll be going out on his terms.
He scored 28 goals in 71 games, which is his highest goals per-game rate since 2008-09.
Doan has proved himself useful as the Coyotes’ captain if the team wants to offer him a contract for another season. He helped shepherd youngsters like Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, while also staying productive.
He can also be a nice addition to a contending team if he wants to test the free agent market in search of his first Stanley Cup.
But really, any decision Doan makes is based on his family and nothing else. That’s the way he’s always been as a person and a player – and partially why he’s stayed with the Coyotes for so long. He could have chased riches elsewhere, but Arizona is home for him and the Coyotes have shown him great loyalty, even at times of great organizational upheaval.
We talked with Doan the day before the Coyotes wrapped up their fourth-straight non-playoff season about his future, Arizona’s future, and John Scott’s All-Star Game selection.
Q: Your contract is up. You’re 39 years old. How do you look at this upcoming offseason?
Doan: I’ll sit down with my wife and family. They give up a lot for me to have the opportunity to do this. As they’ve gotten older their lives have become more and more involved and busier themselves. My wife has put her life on hold for 21 years as she takes care of the kids and whatever I need to do. I’m conscious and aware of all that and need to be cognizant that at some point you have to be able to give a little bit yourself.
How do you see your options this summer? Retirement? Return to Arizona? Look elsewhere?
I haven’t really thought about that because all year long we talked about how we’re not going to worry too much about what’s going to happen in the future because we don’t want it to be something that takes away the moment we’re in. We made a conscious choice as a family to enjoy this season. It’s pretty special and we’re excited. I have my last game coming up. I’m going to enjoy this last game and go from that.
If you do hit the open market I’d assume you’d have quite a few possibilities – including the Coyotes as well.
It’s one of those things, you want to have the option and the ability to make the choice. Everyone wants to feel like they have the choice to go out when they want to go out and I’m excited about getting to spend time with the family, but disappointed in that we’re not in the playoffs but at the same time my kids are getting older and it’s fun to do their things with them and enjoy them.
You had a strange situation with the team this year with John Scott being voted into the All-Star Game. What was it like seeing that all unfold?
It was unique. It happened a couple of times with people getting selected with Rory Fitzpatrick and a couple other players, but it’s the first time a player went. It was a unique opportunity for John and he took it. As a player it was fun to see. Everyone’s dream is to play in the NHL All-Star Game. It’s not just for the players who are really good dreaming of it. It’s everyone who dreams about it. It’s a special and unique opportunity. It was neat to see him get the opportunity to do that and for him to take advantage of it and the way it unfolded there was storybook. It was pretty special.
There were some who thought this prevented you, Oliver Ekman-Larsson or Max Domi from going to the game. What’s your take on that line of thinking?
Guys were cheering for (Scott). For sure guys were cheering for him. And the way it all turned out with him getting the MVP and his team winning, it was a script. That’s special.
No, I mean there wasn’t too much talk about the criticism of it.
You understand there’s always personal feelings and feelings involved in any trade and any transaction and that’s always going to cause issues. You want to have the right to be able to express yourself and he’s expressing himself.
How do you look at this year? Was it a successful year? Was it not because you didn’t make the playoffs?
I think that you didn’t make the playoffs you can’t really consider it a successful season. Every team is disappointed after every year except for one and that’s why we always come back and why we want to play and that’s why we get excited about playing the game because so many guys and teams are disappointed because they didn’t win the whole thing. I think we made some steps and we did some things well and got better but we have a long way to go.
Did you at least have fun this year?
I did, I really enjoyed our young guys. I think I was anxious at the beginning of the year just because we were bringing in so many young guys and that can always be a little bit more trying as an older, veteran guy in more of a leadership role kind of. It can make it more difficult, but at the same time our guys, they were amazing and made it a blast. I really enjoyed it and the guys were incredible and they all were so eager to get better. Their enthusiasm was contagious.
Was there not a lot of teaching with them? They seemed to get it quickly.
I think they got it quickly and I mean, we have a long ways to go – I’m still learning and I’ve been doing this a long time. So, I think they picked it up – it’s more the eagerness to learn and the fact that you want to learn and you want to have questions and want to talk to the veteran guys and I think that’s what made all of our veterans so excited to help and do anything they could to help the young guys on the team. The young guys were really good so it helped a lot.
Was it nice to see that they weren’t overhyped by the organization? That they actually met expectations.
Every organization thinks their prospects are going to be good. Over the years it’s one of the things you learn, that everyone always overvalues their prospects because that’s the way it is (laughs). Everyone’s going to be excited and hopes whoever they have is the next superstar, but our guys, the group that came in this year, it was really impressive to see the way they handled themselves and how they’ve been eager to learn and how we bought in and did everything (coach Dave Tippett) and the coaches asked. Their personalities they blended with everybody.
What was it like keeping up with them?
I don’t try to keep up with them, they’re too fast. I have to try to be in the right spot and let them do most of the work and be in the right spot at the right time. They can do things that are no longer available to me and I don’t think they ever were (available to me).
You’re close to 30 goals. How does it feel to near that mark after a few down years?
At the end of last year you have a lot of questions with the way the whole team played and how I played and the way it all went was really disappointing. This year to be able to contribute on a more consistent basis and help out, that was nice but every year you have to do it again … we have to get better in a lot of areas. That’s another reason why everyone likes to play. You’re always trying to get better and that’s the goal all the time.
Where do you think you improved this year? You said you’re always looking to make improvements.
I don’t know, whatever I said I feel like the next time I’ll totally mess it up. The thing I learned the most is that I really haven’t figured out anything. I’ve been here 20 some years in the league, and have a lot better grasp on a lot of things and I realize now that the game just humbles everybody. It continues to humble everyone and that’s the way it goes.
You set the goals and points records for the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets organization this year ...
Yeah, I mean I think it’s something that as a player you never dream of doing something like that, but I also recognize it took me 1,500 games almost and the other players have done it, they did it in 700 or so. But I am grateful for the opportunity to do it because they kept me around for a long time.
Even though it took a lot of games, there’s something to be said for your longevity, right?
Yeah, that’s something – I am proud of the opportunity to keep playing and being able to play still and feel like I can contribute and help out.
Why did things slow down this year? It felt like you guys were in the playoff mix until around the All-Star break.
It was probably mid-January around the All-Star break, we dropped a few games in a row. That was probably the most frustrating part.
We were in a situation where we were younger as a team and you knew the hard part of the season was coming up. That’s January until beginning of March. That’s a tough stretch and we were starting to slip a little bit.
That’s something that the younger players could learn for next year? How to not hit a wall at that point of the year?
I think as we played, the first half of the season – we talked about it as a group. They’re excited to come to the rink and excited to play in the NHL because it’s been your dream your whole life. That enthusiasm and that energy makes it easy to come to the arena to come to a game and get up for a game. But as the novelty of that wears off and the season drags on, you have to show you’re capable of getting yourself up for the game and doing stuff to get yourself ready and that’s tough. That’s the part where you grow into that. It takes guys a while that this isn’t ‘just show up and do it.’ You have to be ready to do it every night and buy in.
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