Shane Doan is the embodiment of dejection after every loss. You can see it on his face, you can hear it in his voice, and you can feel it in the air around him.
Given that fact, it was hard to tell if Monday’s kick-in-the-unmentionables loss to San Jose hit Doan harder than most. This wasn’t just a loss, it was the final insult in a season filled with indignities.
Confident that Greg Jamison was going to close the deal to buy this franchise, and confident that last season’s berth in the Western Conference Final was a stepping stone to bigger things, Doan -- then an unrestricted free agent -- signed a four-year deal worth about $21.2 million in the offseason to remain with the
Coyotes through 2015-16.
Then Ray Whitney left in free agency, and the 113-day NHL lockout killed any momentum this club had on the ice and in the community. Then came the news that Jamison could not complete the deal, and the Coyotes were once again open for bids. When goalie
Mike Smith didn’t play like the 2011-12 version, and GM Don Maloney’s normally deft offseason touch turned to stone, and the Coyotes slipped back into the pack of also-rans, Doan was left with a familiar feeling.
“Sure, it’s frustrating,” he said. “I expected for us to be better; better than we were last year.”
When longtime Calgary Flame and franchise icon Jarome Iginila was dealt at the trade deadline to Stanley Cup contender Pittsburgh, you had to wonder whether Doan had any second thoughts about his offseason decision. He could have gone to a number of contenders in major markets – Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles among them. But he stuck by the only franchise he had ever known, loyal to the end – and some would say to a fault.
“I’m where I’m supposed to be,” he said. “I wish we were in a different situation than we are, but I made my decision knowing full well that this was a possibility.”
Maybe those thoughts of what might have been exist somewhere in Doan’s mind. Maybe it will hit harder when he’s home watching the playoffs while the
Kings are playing for the Stanley Cup. But he’ll never share those thoughts if they do exist, and he insists that they never cross his mind.
“I’m a big boy,” he said. “There’s no reason to feel sorry for me.
“It’s true that I feel responsible for this team and that is part of why I stayed, but I also feel like we’re going in the right direction. I know this feels like a step backward from winning the division last year to scraping to get in, but I’m a big believer in the people in this locker room.”
It’s almost mind-boggling to witness Doan’s unending reservoir of faith on a daily basis. All but one Coyotes season has ended in extreme disappointment since he launched his career 18 years ago, and yet he always believes a good turn is just around the corner.
“The saying is: Choose to believe in the things that are unseen,” Doan said. “It’s just hope in itself. There’s nothing more to it than that. That’s my personality so it’s always who I’m going to be.”
Maybe the Coyotes ownership situation will have a pleasant and speedy resolution this time around. Maybe the new owner will infuse a little more money into the franchise so that it can finally go out and find a top-end forward or two to push it to the next level.
But whatever comes down the pike, good or bad, Doan is ready to embrace it.
“I’ve got four years,” he said. “I’m going to make sure I do the most I can to make it work.”