MODERATOR: We have with us Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan
. Shane is in his 14th NHL season, all with the same franchise, and will be appearing in the NHL Playoffs starting next week for the first time since 2002. He is currently second on the Coyotes with 53 points on 17 goals and 36 assists, appearing in all 79 games this season. On December 17th of this season, he played in his 1000th NHL regular season game and has accumulated 676 points on 275 goals and 401 assists. Phoenix currently sits fourth in the Western Conference, with a record of 48‑25‑6, for 102 points. And can secure home ice in the first round by recording one point in the final three games of the season which will see them host Nashville before heading on the road to face Los Angeles and finally San Jose to finish the regular season. Thanks to Shane for taking the time to join us, and answer your questions.
Q: As captain of the Phoenix Coyotes, how do you go about preparing the younger players and veterans without playoff experience for a potentially deep playoff run? And are you guys up for the challenge?SHANE DOAN
: Yeah, I definitely think we are. I think one of the things we look at as a group is we're definitely not happy with just making the playoffs. We think we've got a team that's capable of being a very hard out. And as a group, I think this whole year has been preparing us to be kind of ‑‑ it's been moments throughout the year where things could have went the other way, and guys have always responded. And we're kind of taking the same type of approach to the playoffs.
We're just going to play it one game at a time and not try to get too far ahead of ourselves and worried about anything that's going on around us. That is probably the best preparation that we've had for going into it.
Q. At the start of the year you and I talked about the potential of this team, and you were pretty optimistic about it. But even then could you have anticipated to what level this team would perform this season? It's been pretty remarkable. SHANE DOAN
: Yeah, I agree. I was very optimistic and yet at the same time for anyone to say after not making the playoffs for eight years or whatever it was or seven years, to be sitting in a position where there is an outside chance we could have home ice in the conference or at least in our division. But at least to have home ice in the first round would be huge. My goal was simply to make the playoffs. My focus was simply making the playoffs. So right now it's been exciting to have the opportunity to be sitting where we're at. But now that we're here and we know, absolutely nobody is satisfied with just making it now, and that's a great feeling.
Q. When we talked earlier in the year, I remember you had joked that you told everyone that Keith Yandle
would be a good fantasy pick, and obviously he's played very well in terms of point production. Why did you think that Yandle was ready for a breakout season?SHANE DOAN
: Because he has as good instinct as anyone I've ever seen play the blue line at reading plays and knowing when to jump up and anticipating plays. He's just a phenomenal player. And you can see it all the time on the ice, in practice and in different situations, you'd see him do things that no one else was doing. And you knew that it was just a matter of time before that all kind of came together and came to fruition for him. He's probably been our best player probably 25 percent of the nights.
Q. Ilya Bryzgalov has gotten a lot of attention for the way he's played. But in some respects do you think your defense has been a little underrated around the league this season? It's been a pretty good group, and they've played as well as Bryzgalov has.SHANE DOAN
: Without a doubt. Bryzy deserves all the credit that he's getting. But I really would put them (defense) up against anybody. You go through the defensemen and the blue lines that are going to be in the playoffs and I would put our blue line against anybody. One through eight they are so deep now. We have a lot of confidence in each and every one of them. Not only just playing defense, but they've contributed huge for us offensively as well.
Q. I have a question regarding the atmosphere in the locker room. As a captain, was there something that you said that was maybe a pivotal moment this season?SHANE DOAN
: I don't ‑‑ I'd like to think there was, but I'm pretty sure there probably wasn't. You know what? At the beginning of the year I think the approach by the team, Ulf Samuelsson's approach in training camp when he came in and there was absolutely no excuses for our team. Really, I think that's kind of been stressed, especially early on. There were no excuses no matter what. And that we had to be good no matter what. We had to be even better than good, because if we weren't it would start to pile up on us. That was kind of talked about at the beginning. But nothing has been talked about much since the beginning other than focusing on the next game, so that's kind of been our whole mantra for the whole year.
Q. I know you're concerned you haven't scored a goal since the Olympic break. But can you talk about what it feels like not to have to shoulder the offensive burden like you have in the past few years?SHANE DOAN
: It's been incredibly frustrating not to have scored, yet incredibly nice to know that we continue to win and we're continuing to be successful. And Tipp has continued to stress to me not to worry about it. But I can do other things and help out in other ways. I look forward to the playoffs and getting a new fresh start on it. I can't wait.
Q. Obviously exciting times right now at Jobing.com Arena. Is there a buzz now with the rolling out of the White Carpet campaign. How as a captain do you keep everyone focused? You talk about taking it a game at a time. You have three left. There is a chance you get one point and you end up with home-ice advantage. How do you keep everybody on that same page so you know the season's not over yet?SHANE DOAN
: One of the things that's kind of worked against us that everyone's talked about is there isn't a lot of media and scrutiny around us in the fact that we're not the biggest hockey market. But now it's kind of working for us in the fact that really not a lot is changing for us. We just keep doing the exact same thing. We realize that as we have more and more success, we're getting a little more attention, but we're still not inundated by the media and stuff down here. So it hasn't been that difficult. We're going to keep doing the same thing. We're going to keep it simple, and keep taking it one day at a time.
Q. When Lee Stempniak first came in, I know that you guys were hoping that he would help out some offensively. He's really exploded here in the last few weeks. How surprised are you that he's performed so well so quickly?SHANE DOAN
: Well, when we were all sitting in the room we heard there was a chance we might get him, and everybody was pretty excited. Saying what we thought he was capable of being. We were talking about when he was in St. Louis a little bit more, because we played against him then, and how he had 27 goals that year in St. Louis. How he could be a legitimate goal scorer. I don't think anyone would have predicted that he'd be as good as he's been. But we knew how good he was capable of being, and he's been that and more. It's been a lot of fun to watch the ride that he's been on, and we want to keep him going for another two and a half months.
Q. With Bryz, are you ever surprised anymore at what he does?SHANE DOAN
: Bryzy will always surprise me. Maybe not with what he does on the ice, but he'll surprise me with something (laughing). No, he's been so good and so consistent. And when Bryzy is really, really good, it looks so easy. I think sometimes he doesn't get the credit he deserves because he makes it look so easy. He's so square, and he's so solid with his technical game. He just continues to be our best player.
Q. Can you think back to the 2002 playoffs? I know it's a while ago. But what do you remember about those days and that team, and what from those experiences can you help teach the guys who maybe haven't been there?SHANE DOAN
: Just how the intensity of the game changes. How it gets a lot more physical. I remember in that playoff series there was a line it was Mike Ricci, and Scott Thornton, and I think it might have been Cheechoo that was on the line with them, and they kind of controlled the series against us and kind of handed it to us, that line did in particular. They had some other good lines, but that one really gave it to us. The physicality of the game gets that much more, and to love it. And how quickly something can change. I think we went into San Jose and beat them in Game 2, and they came back here and beat us in Game 3. We were so high after Game 2 and how quickly things can change if you let them get away from you. But just to enjoy it and have fun because it's a different game.
Q. You alluded to it a little bit earlier, but I'm wondering if you have any way to explain. You've been a consistent goal scorer in your career, but how this stretch that you've been under has happened?SHANE DOAN
: Everyone has excuses (laughing). You know what, I was a little sore for a little bit, but it's nothing. And it just kind of happens. I'd love to score ‑‑ I think it's been about 65 shots since the puck's went in. Had a couple close ones and a couple called back, but it happens.
Q. Do you recall it ever happening to you like this?SHANE DOAN
: No (laughing). Not since ‑‑ I mean early on in my career it did. That's when I wasn't playing very much. I haven't had anything like this since. But again, I look forward to Tipp and the coaching staff are trying to stay positive with me, which I'm sure is when they're talking to me in private they're pulling their hair out. Like come on, Doaner, you've got to help us out a little bit here. But they're staying positive. I know that I'll be able to score, and the puck will go in the net. When it does, it will be great. We all start over at zero here in three games. I've got to make sure I'm ready for that.
Q. How have your teammates been? I guess they're not joking about it at this point?SHANE DOAN
: Oh, no, I think we're to the point we're joking about it now. There is not a lot else you can do. I mean, as frustrated as I've ever been probably. No, it is. It's as frustrated as I've ever been with scoring goals. I've never had anything like this. But we'll just keep on working. I can do a lot of other things I've got to make sure I don't let that focus take away from anything else I can do.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the buzz in the air around the team versus what it was like in October and January. I know you said the media presence isn't overwhelming. But do you sense more people are caring and paying attention and coming to games as we get closer to the playoffs?SHANE DOAN
: Without a doubt. I think we sold out the last three or four games in a row. Which they announced it is our third straight sellout which got a little bit of a rise out of the crowd against Edmonton. That's fine to have something like that. And I think the previous three games we were at 15 or 16,000 in each of those games too. So it's definitely growing. We were joking that we led the news on two or three of the networks here in town, and that hasn't happened with a positive note, I don't think, in a long time here. We've done it before, but it usually hasn't been positive. It's been good. I think that to a certain degree in the beginning of the year, we got a little bit more attention because people kind of wanted to see how badly we might fail. Then as we started to have more success, it started to go the other way where people were like, oh, man, can these guys hold it together? Can they keep doing it? So it's been a fun year for us.
Q. Is it easier when you see lots of people in the stands versus playing in front of a bunch of empty seats? It must get you guys motivated to play even better as you see more people in the building?SHANE DOAN
: Our PR guy will laugh because I've been saying it all year. We all have pretty good sized egos. Every athlete has an ego. When you have a full building, it's always that much better and we enjoy it. I mean, we play the game because we love it, but we recognize the fact with the full building, the entertainment and excitement of the building makes it that much better.
Q. The team was in playoff position and playing well before the trade deadline yet went out and made five acquisitions. Were you surprised that so many new players were brought in? Just your thoughts on that and how much it's meant to the team getting better moving forward.SHANE DOAN
: I think we were surprised with the number of moves that we made. We all thought that we needed to make a move or two. But I was surprised with the number of guys that we were able to bring in. Then on top of that the guys that we brought in, it was, you know, bringing in Stemmer, and bringing in (Wojtek) Wolski, and Mo (Derek Morris
), and those are big‑named guys. Bringing in Mathieu Schneider and Nokey (Petteri Nokelainen), they've helped us out so much. That was huge for us as a team to realize and recognize that, hey, you don't get too many opportunities like this when you have a team that's on a run and you've got to ride it as long as you can.
Q. How do you attribute the chemistry going so well since the trade deadline? A lot of teams a lot of times historically the trade deadlines that the teams take about maybe five to ten games before they really start clicking. But you guys seemed to click out of the gate the very first game after the trade deadline. How do you attribute what happened?SHANE DOAN
: You know, it's this thing what comes first, chemistry or winning? And I think that we played Colorado the first game after the trade deadline, and we scored with like 21 seconds left to win the game. And Stemmer had scored early on in the game. Because we won it and because they both scored, it seemed to boost everybody's confidence on our team. Then obviously helped them both out with easing the pressure a little bit for both of them. Then after that it started to build. And Stemmer got really hot and took off. And it's hard to say what it was, whether it was the winning or that the chemistry brought on the winning. We're not too sure, but we're not going to worry about it. We're just going to enjoy it.
Q. It was hard to start the season with Dave Tippett coming in a week before the regular season started. How long was the adjustment period getting used to him? And talk about what he's brought to the team as far as getting everybody playing his way, the way he wants, and as quickly as you guys did?SHANE DOAN
: It was very unique situation I mean, the start of this year. I mean, nobody knew exactly what was going on. But Ulf Samuelsson did a phenomenal job in training camp. And Ulf and Dave are very good friends and have very similar philosophies. So training camp was run with absolutely no excuses and we go with whatever happened. When Tipp stepped in because him and Ulf are such good friends and it was a seamless transition from one to the other. His system is very simple in the fact that he knows exactly what he wants and can explain it to you very well. And so because of that I think the message was so clear and it helped us a lot. He's just done a phenomenal job.