GLENDALE – They say a picture paints a thousand words and a prime example of that phrase can be seen in a photo taken the moment Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc recently presented captain Shane Doan a check for $100,000 to launch the Shane Doan Arizona Youth Hockey Fund.
“I was floored,” Doan said. “It was pretty incredible for the Coyotes to do that.”
LeBlanc crafted the idea as a way to congratulate Doan on setting a franchise record for goals scored, which he did when he notched his 380th on New Year’s Eve. The team officially recognized Doan’s feat with a pre-game ceremony on Jan. 21, during which he received a watch from his teammates and a commemorative painting from the team. But LeBlanc wanted to make the night ever more special for Doan, so he devised a gift that would keep giving to others on Doan’s behalf. All funds will be distributed to youth hockey programs at the discretion of Doan and his board of directors.
“I am well aware that you can spend the money in a million different ways and we’ll figure out a way that we can do it that’s good for everybody,” Doan said. “…I love hockey and I love minor hockey, and in order for the Coyotes fanbase to continue to grow, I think it’s important that kids play.”
LeBlanc said the idea to start the fund came after Doan set the record, but it was based on a chat he and Doan had when they met.
“Within my very first conversation with Shane after we bought the team back in August of 2013, I remember him saying, ‘Look, we as the Coyotes need to get involved in youth hockey,’” LeBlanc said. “His view is that we – meaning he, and me, and the other owners and the team – have to give back, so I thought this was a great opportunity, and a great way to do it is in Shane’s name because he is the greatest ambassador this sport has ever had in the state of Arizona and he absolutely believes in the growth of hockey in the Valley.”
LeBlanc credits majority owner Andrew Barroway for his generosity when it came time to decide how much money the team would donate to the fund.
“At first, it was just going to be a donation to youth hockey organizations in Shane’s name,” LeBlanc said. “Then I went a step further and thought we can really make this something special. So I went to Andy and said, ‘This is something we should do,’ and he came back to me and said ‘OK, why don’t we put in $100,000?’ I was shocked. Honestly, my expectation, and I thought it was lofty, was to give $38,000 to cleverly commemorate Shane’s 380 goals. But when he came back with $100,000 I quickly said, ‘OK, done!’”
The Coyotes are looking at the donation not only as a well-deserved gift to their long-time captain and face of the franchise, but also as an investment.
“The growth of hockey in non-traditional markets has to be tied to the growth of the sport at the grass-roots level,” LeBlanc said. “The $100,000 is seed money, and when you say seed money that means you expect something to grow. We as the Coyotes, and obviously Shane, now need to turn this into something that I think can be pretty special.”
Life is full of memorable experiences, and for LeBlanc presenting the money to an unsuspecting Doan on the ice before a game was one he never will forget.
“One of the greatest moments of being a part of this team was unveiling that check to Shane because he had no idea it was coming,” LeBlanc said. “The expression on his face and his reaction afterward made us feel very good.”