GLENDALE -- Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan retired from the NHLon Wednesday after 21 seasons.
Doan, 40, made the announcement in a letter to fans published by The Arizona Republic newspaper.
"I could not fathom at the time that I would end up playing in Arizona for the next 21 years, raise a family and call this place home," Doan, who accompanied the Winnipeg Jets to Phoenix in 1996 after his rookie season, wrote to the fans. "But that's exactly what happened. And that's why this has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. I'm retiring from the NHL."
Video: Thank You, Shane Doan
Doan played 1,540 NHL games, all for the Coyotes/Jets franchise. Only 13 players have played more NHL games, and he's one of just nine NHLers to play at least 21 seasons with the same organization.
In response to Doan's announcement, the Coyotes released a statement that reads:
"On behalf of the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, our fans and our corporate partners, we would like to thank Shane for everything that he's done for our franchise over the past 21 years. Shane had an incredible career on the ice and we are very proud of everything that he accomplished in a Coyotes uniform. He will be remembered as one of the greatest captains in NHL history. Off the ice, Shane was a great ambassador for growing the game of hockey in Arizona and his contributions to the community are immeasurable. Shane will be a Coyote for life. Thank you Captain!"
Doan, who served as team captain from 2003-17, is the franchise's all-time leader in games (1,540), goals (402), assists (570), points (972), power-play goals (128), and game-winning goals (69). His best offensive season came in 2007-08 when he notched 78 points (28 goals, 50 assists) in 80 games.
Doan was named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2004 and 2009, and he won the 2012 Mark Messier Leadership Award after leading the Coyotes to the Western Conference Finals that season.
Beyond the stats and awards, Doan was a fan favorite in Arizona for many, many years. In 2015, he was voted the Valley's Most Popular Sports Figure by fans in an online poll conducted by azcentral.com.
"I've been blessed and I'm so grateful for the fans and their support," Doan wrote. "They stuck by me throughout my career and the ups and downs of the Coyotes. There are a lot of players with more skill than me and a lot more ability than me that didn't ever get the type of appreciation that I got and the type of respect that the fans gave me, and I'm so grateful for that. I can't express how much I appreciate it. Thank you for watching me grow up, and I enjoyed watching a lot of you grow up, too."
"I also want to say thanks to the Coyotes, who provided me the opportunity to stay in the Valley for 21 years," Doan wrote. "That's one of the most meaningful accomplishments of my career, and I'll forever cherish the friendships I've made along the way."
Examples of Doan's friendships were evident on Twitter after news of his retirement broke on Wednesday morning: