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Larry Fitzgerald skates with Coyotes

Cardinals wide receiver takes ice with Coyotes captain, friend Shane Doan

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even though Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was born and raised in Minnesota and grew up rooting for Mike Modano and the North Stars, he had never skated before.

That changed Monday at Gila River Arena, when the newest recipient of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award gingerly stepped out on the ice in a pair of rented size 13 skates with Arizona Coyotes captain, and friend, Shane Doan.

He didn't build up much momentum during his 15 minutes on the ice but he didn't fall either.

"I can move my feet or I can handle the puck," Fitzgerald said. "But I can't do both at the same time. I just wanted to say I scored one goal."

And after several ill-fated attempts, Fitzgerald whacked a final Doan set-up into the net, raised his hands in triumph and was ready to call it a day.

Fitzgerald will be back at the arena Saturday when thousands of bobbleheads resembling him in a Coyotes jersey will be handed out before the game with the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, ROOT, NHL.TV).

Video: Larry Fitzgerald discusses skate with Coyotes

"My kids are really excited to go to the game and about the bobblehead, and I haven't been out to a game this year," said Fitzgerald, who was named to the NFL Pro Bowl for the 10th time this season and recently announced he will return for his 13th season. "I saw the bobblehead, they kept me abreast during the whole process and it came out good. I have a good looking bobblehead.

"I think it looks like me. It's got my hair. It's got my earrings. It's got my big teeth."

Tweet from @LarryFitzgerald: My neighbors got me my first Bobblehead, just in time for #NationalBobbleheadDay! Only way to get one is to come to #Yotes vs. PIT on 2/11.

Doan and Fitzgerald, the two most enduring sports stars in Arizona, have been friends since they teamed up on a series of commercials in 2006. They are both glowing admirers of each other as athletes and people.

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Find someone who treats you the way Shane treats Larry.

"He's stuck around a heck of a lot longer than I have, and this community should be thankful for his loyalty and dedication," Fitzgerald said of Doan. "I know he's a great mentor to the guys on their team and he's selfless to go through some of the tough years and remain a face of the franchise."

Doan is a huge sports fan and loves the Cardinals, who play right across the street from Gila River Arena at University of Phoenix Stadium. If the Cardinals are home on a Sunday when the Coyotes are in town and not playing, team members often attend the games.

"We're friends because I'm the biggest fan of his," Doan said. "I think he's amazing. He's one of the all-time greats in the most popular sports in the country. I'm proud to be his friend, not just because of his greatness as an athlete but how he is always giving back to help others."

Fitzgerald said he has always been drawn to the speed and skill in the NHL and has struck up friendships with other former Coyotes players from Jeremy Roenick to Brett Hull, and also Wayne Gretzky.

"It's like watching poetry in motion," he said. "Even watching practice today, to watch the guys handle the puck; their hands are just unbelievable."

The motion wasn't quite as poetic when Fitzgerald took his tentative turn on the ice, but Doan was impressed.

"He was a lot better than I thought he'd be," Doan said. "When people get on skates for the first time (in their 30s) they are usually hanging on the boards all the way around. He went right out there. He handled the puck and got a few shots off."

Tweet from @AZCardinals: Didn't take too long for the Minnesota native to score a goal.@LarryFitzgerald finds the net off a one-timer at @ArizonaCoyotes practice.

So will Doan be putting on a Cardinals helmet, shoulder pads and return the favor at a Cardinals practice? Not likely he said, although he knows what position would interest him.

"I think middle linebacker would be fun," he said "It would be fun hitting all the people who come through."

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