LAS VEGAS -- Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is struggling with the notion that Shane Doan's career with the Arizona Coyotes is over.
The Coyotes announced Monday they will not re-sign Doan, 40, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Doan has spent his entire career with the franchise, moving with it from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996, and has been the captain for the past 14 years.
"I'm pretty sad about it," said Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan living in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Matthews used to have posters of Doan on his bedroom walls. He eventually participated in summer skates with Doan.
Matthews' first game in his home state, Dec. 23, 2016, was also the night when Doan scored his 400th NHL career goal in his 1,500th career game. They took the opening faceoff against each other.
"I loved him growing up," Matthews said. "He was my idol. Then getting to know him, he's such an unbelievable person. As good as he is on the ice, the person he is off the ice really exemplifies everything about him. I'm pretty sad to see it, but he gives it his all and he's been with that organization for 21 years and he's made a big impact on and off the ice."
Matthews knew Doan's time with the Coyotes couldn't last forever, but it didn't make the news that came out Monday any easier for him to handle.
"Pretty sad to see that," he said.