It's certain Shane Doan
is the most respected player in the Phoenix Coyotes
' dressing room.
His teammates say it loudly and proudly.
And so do the members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, who voted Doan as their nominee for the Bill Masterton
Memorial Trophy, given yearly to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
Doan admits the respect he receives from teammates for his role as captain and veteran leader on one of the younger teams in the League is important to him, but when it comes from outside the locker room, it has a different kind of meaning.
"It means a lot when your teammates see it," Doan told NHL.com, "but when it's someone who's a neutral party that sees it and says something, it's a huge honor. People that you don't have every-day dealings with, people that it's not necessarily in their best interests one way or the other to think of you, I think it means more. … If it's someone from the outside, if they don't have a vested interest, it means a lot more to you. If there's no real reason, then it's a compliment."
Doan has earned all the compliments he's been getting this season. He leads the Coyotes with 28 goals, and career-best totals of 50 assists and 78 points.
It's not just scoring, though, where Doan leads. His plus-7 rating is tied for third on the team, his 20:48 of ice time lead Coyotes forwards, and his 156 hits are second on the team. He leads the team with 63 takeaways.
His teammates have proven his energy and example are contagious.
"He competes like it's his last game every night," said rookie defenseman Keith Yandle
. "He demands a lot out of every one and he gives his 100 percent every night. When you see your captain going like that, a guy who's played for a bunch of years, he's played for Team Canada, he's a big part of their success in World Championships, when you see him going 100 percent, making things happen, you want to match his intensity. When you see him going you want to go a lot harder."
Off the ice, Doan also provides the same kind of leadership. It's something he learned as a 19-year-old with the Winnipeg Jets, starting his NHL career four months after the Jets made him the seventh overall selection of the 1995 Entry Draft.
"It seems like yesterday I was the guy looking at (Keith) Tkachuk and (Teppo) Numminen and (Mike) Gartner, all the guys that were around and I got to watch and see what they were like," Doan said. "It really seems like yesterday. It changes so quickly. Our team got really young this year. It's something that as a player, I think every player put in that situation enjoys because it means you've been around a while and you've had some durability in the League. If you can help any of your teammates and make it easier, you're going to. You look forward to that, but at the same time I talk to other guys on other teams that have been playing longer than I have. It's a circular thing."
Doan has no problem bringing other players into his circle.
"He's definitely made it an unbelievable experience," said center Peter Mueller
, who is second in rookie goals with 22. "A lot of young guys coming into the program are a little nervous, but when you have guys like Shane, they've made it a lot easier for us coming in and playing right away. He's been in the League since he's 19-years-old, so he knows exactly what to do. He tells people what to do and people listen. When he talks, everyone listens. He's our leader, our captain. He knows what it takes to be a pro."
Now in his 12th NHL season, Doan, 31, has played his entire career with the Jets/Coyotes franchise, and likely will end his career there; he's in the first season of a five-year contract extension he signed Feb. 15, 2007. He entered this season in the top-six all-time in franchise history in goals, assists, points and games played, among other categories. He's only missed 25 games the last nine seasons.
"Shane could play for forever because he conditions well, he takes care of his body," Mueller said.
Off the ice, Doan has taken an active role in a number of charities, including United Blood Services in Arizona, Phoenix Children's Hospital and the Phoenix Rescue Mission. The charities attracted Doan for one reason – for the father of four children under the age of 9, nothing is more important to him than his own kids.
"As a parent and as a dad, anything to do with kids you're immediately drawn toward, because you realize how amazing they are and how precious they are," he said.
He feels the same way about his kid teammates.
"I can't say enough good things about our young guys," Doan said. "It seems like young guys come in and get big minutes, it's easy for them to think they've made it. Our young guys have been incredible. They want to work hard and listen and go out and do more and do better. As excited as we are about how they've come in and done so well, we're excited about the future because they want to get better."
And with Doan to use as a role model, it could be a very bright future.
"You want to be like him," said Yandle. "And if you're just a little bit of the professional he is, you'll be a great professional."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.