Shane Doan is entering his 20th season in the NHL and the final season of a four-year contract, but the Arizona Coyotes captain isn't quite sure this will be his final season.
"I think I'm playing," Doan told the Arizona Republic on Wednesday. "At the same time, I mean, if I'm terrible, I don't want to be a nuisance to anybody. But if I can show I can play, then I want to be playing.
"I think this is going to be a big year to let me know more. As your contract winds down and my career obviously at the same time, you're getting older and you recognize I've got to do some things here if I want to keep playing. I want to prove as much to myself as anybody that I can keep playing."
Doan, who turns 39 in October, was the seventh pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets and has spent his entire career with the franchise, which moved to Arizona following the 1995-96 season. Last season he had 14 goals, 36 points and a minus-29 rating in 79 games, and the Coyotes finished with the fewest points in the Western Conference.
"It's exciting at the beginning of the year," Doan said. "You're ready to go, and I feel great. I feel excited. Obviously last year wasn't a very fun year and you look forward to having a better season."
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said despite the offensive struggles, Doan offers a lot to the team.
"He's still one of the ultimate, top leaders in the game, which that won't change," Tippett said. "I think as we put better players around him he doesn't have to carry the franchise on his back. He can still be our leader and everything. But for us to get to be a better team, we need to surround him with some better players. He can do his part, the other guys can do their part and we'll be a better team, and I guarantee you Shane will enjoy it a lot more."
In 1,394 regular-season games, Doan has 368 goals, 898 points and 1,207 penalty minutes.
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney didn't rule out re-signing Doan, but that's not something that would happen during the season.
"I think Shane's got the right attitude," Maloney said. "He's going into this year to have a strong season, and then we'll address his playing at the end of it."