Doan adds physical element
|A prototypical power forward with good hands, Team Canada's Shane Doan has deceptive finesse skills, great hockey sense, and a knack for scoring important goals. |
By Karl Samuelson | NHL.com correspondent
Feb. 10, 2006
Some of the most accomplished players in the NHL now rate among its toughest. Defenders have to be equally concerned about stopping them physically as keeping them off the score sheet. This is not a new development in hockey, it simply took a hiatus, but multi-dimensional tough guys are leading several teams around the circuit.
There was a narrow gap between toughness and skill during the Original Six era. Stars like Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Milt Schmidt and Maurice Richard struck fear into the opposition by combining skill with authority on the ice. The NHL's expansion in the late 1960s and early '70s ushered in the arrival of one-dimensional tough guys who made it to the show often as much for their pugilistic abilities as their skill with the puck. The deployment of "enforcers" has gradually declined to the point that today they've gone the way of the dinosaur. Teams now look to talented tough guys who can help win games by virtue of both their skill and aggression.
"Teams can no longer afford to have one-dimensional players," says San Jose Sharks special assistant John Ferguson, who during his playing career combined renowned toughness with a penchant for making timely plays on five Stanley Cup championship teams with the Montreal Canadiens. "The Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia were a very tough team. When you went into Philadelphia in the '70s you knew they'd be ready. Consequently, everybody loaded up with that type of player. Times have changed. Now the toughest players are also some of the best players in the game."
The Phoenix Coyotes recognized the immense value of that combination of talent and toughness when they made Shane Doan their team captain in 2003. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has deceptive finesse skills, great hockey sense, and a knack for scoring important goals. Doan is already close to recording his sixth consecutive 20-goal season and has notched more than 150 markers since being chosen seventh overall in the 1995 Entry Draft. A prototypical power forward with good hands, Doan is consistently among the Coyotes' leaders in goals, assists, points, shots, hits, penalty-minutes and ice time per game. He utilizes his whole repertoire to put the Coyotes on the scoreboard, but he is also one of the most punishing players in the League.
A high-energy competitor who forms the bedrock of the Coyotes' franchise, Doan plays with an edge which he backs up with a willingness to take on all comers. And Doan can intimidate in several ways. Besides putting numbers on the board, Doan utilizes his frame to hit like a Mack truck. There are some big strong players who don't know how to hit, but the Coyotes' captain has it down to a science. Doan knows how to get into the right position and take opponents out by not simply running them over, but taking them right out of the play. Punishing opponents physically and on the score sheet, that's Doan's calling card. It's that dangerous combination of skill and authority which will enable him to perform at a high level in Torino.
"I'm going over there to be a high energy guy," says Doan. "That's my role. I have to be physical and win battles one-on-one. I know that I have to be sound defensively and contribute by providing energy. That's a big part of what I'm going to have to do there because Team Canada has so many guys that can score and do so much offensively. You need to have guys that can do the others things too."
|Shane Doan is already close to recording his sixth consecutive 20-goal season, and has more than 150 goals since being chosen seventh overall in the 1995 Entry Draft. |
Doan is the undisputed heart and soul player in Phoenix, but at the Olympics he will be one leader among many on a Team Canada squad that boasts the likes of Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Jarome Iginla, Vincent Lecavalier, and Joe Thornton.
"Some of the best leaders in the game," says Doan. "You really notice their preparation. How they prepare themselves for each and every game. That's what separates the great leaders from the other guys. You see that and you realize what you have to do to get to the next level."
While this will be the first time that Doan will see action in the Olympics, the Halkirk, Alberta native is no stranger to international competition. Doan represented Team Canada at the 1999 World Championships in Norway and in 2003 helped lead his country to a gold medal at the World Championships in Finland. His proclivity for clutch scoring came through when Doan scored the Cup-winning goal for Team Canada at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and assured Canada's position as the preeminent hockey power at the 2004 World Cup.
"That was incredible," Doan said. "It was a dream to score that goal. I'm never going to forget it."
Canada might be the favorite to bring home Olympic gold, but Doan cautions that he and his Team Canada teammates will not be lulled into a false sense of security by taking any of their competition lightly. "Not at all," says Doan. "I think there are seven and maybe even eight teams that have a legitimate argument that they could win it. It's really an open tournament."
And a tournament unlike any other. "It's bigger than our sport," says Doan. "It's bigger than hockey. It's the Olympics. It's everything that goes with it. This is such a huge opportunity and I'm excited for it. I can't wait for it to start."