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Phoenix Gamebreaker: Shane Doan

by John Manasso
His statistics might be paltry by the standards of others -- his 55 points would rank sixth on the high-flying Washington Capitals -- but entering the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan brings the intangibles in a way that few NHL players do.

When Lee Stempniak arrived at the trade deadline from Toronto, Doan was the first to call him. That made Stempniak feel right at home almost instantly and the impact on the Coyotes was invaluable: the right wing has scored 14 goals in 18 games with Phoenix.

"He's got to be one of the nicest guys I've ever met," Stempniak said. "Personable, friendly, outgoing. He's friends with everybody. I guess you don't always see that with age differences and people with families, but I think that's the personal side of it.

"And on the ice, he's accountable and he works so hard. Vocal when he has to be, not a big rah-rah guy, but he leads more by example and that's all you can ask for from a leader."

Whether it was the arrival of a trade-deadline addition like Stempniak or a coach -- Dave Tippett -- who took over after the start of training camp because of the team's legal woes, Doan has ensured stability.

"... On the ice, he's accountable and he works so hard. Vocal when he has to be, not a big rah-rah guy, but he leads more by example and that's all you can ask for from a leader."
-- Lee Stempniak on Shane Doan

"As a coach, you come in and you have to make sure your dressing room's in order," Tippett said. "The two guys who spearheaded the way the dressing room was going to accept what happened was Doan and [Ed] Jovanovski and they were both strong, strong leaders in there. To make sure there were no distractions off the ice or to make sure the group was buying in to what the coaches and management was selling. They've been a very vital cog in this process."

And that, in essence, is what led to the Coyotes' miraculous season -- by collectively buying into Tippet's defensive-first approach. The Coyotes rank third in the League in goals-against-per-game at 2.39.

General Manager Don Maloney said Doan sets the tone for the organization in terms of character and how the team plays.

"It's hard, it's compete," Maloney said. "He has really been a good leader here and played through all the dark days."

So entering Phoenix's first playoff appearance since 2002, the Coyotes will likely look to Doan to set the tone on the ice. The physical 6-foot-1, 228-pound winger was once a mainstay on Canada's national teams and has been one of the League's most consistent scorers over the last decade.

After hitting at least the 20-goal mark for nine-straight seasons, he failed to reach it this season with 18. But that's because he has traded personal statistics in favor of winning and Tippett's approach.

So any opponent that underestimates his ability to score could be making a costly error.

"It's been tough," Doan said of the long years out of the playoffs. "It's not anyone's goal to go what we've gone through for the last eight years, but we'll definitely enjoy this once we'll get there."

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