"If you win in Phoenix they'll support you and love you. The Cardinals have been notorious for being one of the bottom teams in the NFL and now they're one of the hottest teams in the NFL because the whole city of Phoenix is behind them, and it's a huge, huge market." -- Shane Doan
Forget about me, Phoenix Coyotes
captain Shane Doan
said Wednesday from Canada's orientation camp, and think about the little guys.
When the veteran of 14 seasons in Phoenix thinks about the potential for the Coyotes to move, either now or in the near future, Doan worries not for himself or his teammates, but of the security guards at Jobing.com Arena, the staffers that work in the Coyotes' offices and even the media guys that follow the team on a daily basis.
What will they do? Who is going to take care of them?
It's the untold side of the ongoing story in Phoenix about the future of the Coyotes.
"It's a lot more stressful for them," Doan said during a long interview where he opened up about his desire to stay in Phoenix for many personal reasons. "As players we can play hockey pretty much anywhere, but you feel for those guys, the people that have supported us for the last 14 years. They don't get any attention. It's always the same group of guys that get asked if it's stressful, but those guys would be scrambling and figuring out what they're going to do next."
Doan understands the business side of things and doesn't pretend to know anything that is going on with the sale of the team, but he also believes the Coyotes have struggled financially simply because they haven't delivered much to the millions of sports fans in the desert.
The Coyotes have never won a playoff series. In fact, they have gone eight seasons without a playoff appearance.
"The city of Phoenix, the Valley, it's been great if we win," Doan said. "When we were successful in making the playoffs the first few years the fans were great. In the middle of that we pretty much changed cities where we moved out to Glendale and that affected our fan base I'm sure considerably because it's a fair jaunt from (Phoenix). To top it off, we haven't won. I mean, you can't blame the fans or the city or the area one bit for the fact that we haven't won.
"Not to be rude or point out anything, if you look at when Calgary was struggling and hadn't made the playoffs -- and I'm from here (Halkirk, Alberta) -- people had season tickets, but they weren't showing up for the games," Doan continued. "If you went seven years without making the playoffs, and not even being close, you'll see what any hockey city will be like, especially when you have as many options as they do in Phoenix."
For proof, Doan says all you have to do is look at the Arizona Cardinals, who rose from the bottom of the NFL to reach the Super Bowl last season. Football fans in the Valley returned to the Cards in droves. They became one of professional sports' "it" teams.
"If you win in Phoenix they'll support you and love you," Doan said. "The Cardinals have been notorious for being one of the bottom teams in the NFL and now they're one of the hottest teams in the NFL because the whole city of Phoenix is behind them, and it's a huge, huge market."
Winnipeg isn't nearly as big as Phoenix, but Doan went through that ordeal with the Jets before they moved to Phoenix. He said it was tough on the players, but tougher on the fans.
Winnipeg Arena was dead during the Jets' last regular season, 1995-96, but once they got to the playoffs Doan said it was as vibrant an environment that he had ever experienced. The Jets played their last game on April 28, 1996. They lost to Detroit, 4-1.
"In the playoffs it was the loudest and most incredible atmosphere I have ever been in," Doan said. "In Phoenix it'll be the same thing. If we're able to win they'll come out and cheer for us. If we're able to make the playoffs they'll come out and support us huge."
That Doan has made his home in the Phoenix area for the last 14 years is another reason he doesn't want to see the Coyotes go anywhere. His 10-year-old daughter doesn't want to leave her friends. Neither does his 7-year old son, who is going to play hockey this year.
"Yeah, it is stressful at times," Doan said. "My daughter is 10 and she's been in the same school for the last five years and has all her friends right around her. She hears things and asks things, 'Are we moving?' 'What's going on, dad?' You don't want to say, 'No, we're not,' because if you end up moving you feel like a liar. At the same time you don't want to tell her, 'Yeah, we are,' because she'll be upset. No 10-year-old wants to leave her friends. That's where it affects you."
"As a player you understand it, but when it gets personal like that it makes it tougher," he added. "This has been my home for a long time and it's where I'm comfortable."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com