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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
With the big presidential election coming up in a few days, I thought it was a good time to sit down for a chat with captain Shane Doan, a Canadian citizen with more than just a casual interest in U.S. politics. We chatted for a minute or two about it, and then just kept chatting about a variety of topics. Here are the highlights, Q & A style:

Shane, you usually start the season slowly when it comes to scoring goals, but so far you have six goals in nine games. What’s the deal?
SD: “When you don’t score you start to try a little harder and you start to squeeze the stick a little tighter and then it never seems to settle down for you, and then when you are scoring it seems to be that much easier. This year, I’ve gotten on a roll a little earlier. Definitely it was a conscious effort to have a good start.”

Q: Do you set a mark for yourself each season when it comes to scoring goals and, if so, how important is it to you to reach that mark?
SD: “This is a cop-out to your question and I know it, but for me it’s all about making the playoffs. Vesty, if I was to score 40 goals this season and we missed the playoffs, I would be devastated. If I score 20 goals and the 20th is the game-winning goal on the last day of the season that gets us into the playoffs, I would be ecstatic.”

Q: At age 32, do you feel you are in the prime of your career right now or is the best yet to come?
SD: “I honestly believe this, and I’m probably biased because it’s myself, but I’ve got great genetics in my family and I really, really believe that I’m only going to get better, without a doubt, over the next five or six years.”

Q: Everywhere we go it seems reporters from other cities ask you about how fun it must be to be playing with all the talented rookies and second-year players on this team, and about “babysitting” them. Do you, as a 13-year NHL veteran, ever get tired of all the attention they are getting?
SD: “I think every player wants attention. Athletes have egos. If our young guys were arrogant or cocky about it, maybe I would (be tired of it) but our young guys are so interested in finding things out and are wanting to learn, it makes it really easy to be around them… I enjoy their enthusiasm, and when you see them playing their first road game or first home game or you see them scoring their first goal, it makes you think about yours and you get excited about that because you remember that feeling.”

Q: You are not a U.S. citizen and can’t vote in Tuesday’s election, but will you be following the election closely even though the Coyotes will be out of the country playing at Calgary that night?
SD: “During the day I will. It’s a huge event. It affects everybody’s lives and everything that goes on around you, so it’s definitely something you had better be aware of.”

Q: I know you told us to check back with you for an assessment of this season’s team after 20 games, but what do you make of this team after nine games?
SD: “We’ve been good in some games and really bad in some. It’s a young team so we’re going to have that. So, it seems we’re going to have to work on staying balanced where we can’t be ordering rings, as everyone jokes about, after we win a game, and (realizing) we’re not the worst team in the world when we lose a game. We’ve got to find that balance where we know we can play with anybody, but also know we’re not capable of just showing up and winning.”

Egged on by his teammates, I spoke to defenseman Kurt Sauer about his breakaway during Thursday night’s win over Pittsburgh. Derek Morris fed Sauer the puck as Sauer came out of the penalty box, but Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang caught up to him just enough to disrupt Sauer’s shot on goal.

“That was the first one (of his career) and maybe the last,” Sauer said with a smile. “…I guess you wouldn’t want to score on your first breakaway right? If you do, then what are you looking forward to?”

Sauer took a little ribbing from teammates about it, but it didn’t bother him.

“It was a lot of fun actually. I saw where I wanted to go, but he got his stick in there and that was about it.”

Enforcer Brian McGrattan hasn’t practiced the past few days because of a pulled muscle, but Head Coach Wayne Gretzky told me it wasn’t a serious injury.

I'd like to wish a speedy recovery to Lou Monaco, perhaps the nicest gentleman I've ever met in my life. Louie, who at 83 years old still works the media/VIP parking lots at the arena, was clipped by a car while working other night. Louie is in a local hospital but I'm told his injuries are not too serious. Take care Lou and get well soon.

Thanks for reading.

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