When you play hockey for as long as Keith Tkachuk
, you're going to have an influence on a lot of people. But perhaps Tkachuk, who will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday in Chicago, made his biggest impact on Shane Doan
Tkachuk spent 10 seasons playing for the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, the final eight as the team's captain and the final six alongside Doan, who is the current captain of the Coyotes.
Doan broke into the NHL in 1995 as an 18-year-old budding power forward. The 6-foot-1, 223-pound Doan couldn't have found a better role model for his career than Tkachuk, the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder who scored 102 goals during Doan's first two seasons.
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 18
SOG: 82 | +/-: -7
The 35-year-old Doan spoke to NHL.com about what it was like breaking into the NHL with Tkachuk as a mentor, his ability to control a locker room, and how the big, tough Tkachuk is "petrified" of a certain barnyard animal.
Q: What was it like for you as a teenager coming into Winnipeg as a rookie and having a captain and player like Keith Tkachuk in the locker room?
I looked up to him. The way that he played the game, the way that he carried himself. He had a big personality. I just really admired him and wanted to play like him and just try to be like him. He did an unbelievable job of just encouraging me and pointing things out to me. As I got more comfortable on the team, he was great to me. I can't say enough good things about the way he treated me.
Q: As two guys who played similar styles, were you friends instantly?
I consider Keith one of my good friends. As an 18-year-old kid, it was a little different. He was in a different kind of situation. At the time, I thought he was so much older. But now that I look back and realize he was only four or five years older, so it's not as big a deal. But at the time, you're 18 and he's 23 and in the League for four years.
Q: What did Keith Tkachuk mean to your career?
HALL OF FAME
Tough to rival Tkachuk
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer
Very few American-born players have had NHL careers that rival that of the longtime power forward for the Jets, Coyotes and Blues, who is set to enter the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
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He's a guy that … it's hard to explain. In a way, his personality is so big and brash, but in the most genuinely good way. I knew whose dressing room it was, I knew whose team it was. It was Keith's team. But at the same time, he always made me feel welcome. The type of guy he is, Keith would give it to you constantly about everything. He would tease you and give it to you all the time. But one of the things that meant the most to me in my entire career, I got to play in my first All-Star Game. It was in Minnesota (in 2003) and Keith was there and I was pretty shy and quiet. I didn't feel out of place, but I don't care who you are. If it's your first All-Star Game, you feel out of place because these are the guys you always watched and these are the best of the best. Keith made sure he would kind of give it to me and tease me, but at the same time he went out and made sure I played on his line, he made sure we were on the ice together, he set me up for a goal. You know what I mean? It's hard to explain. I have so much admiration for him and really think he's one of those individuals that make our sport so great. I really liked the person that I've gotten to know and he's a fun guy to be with.
Q: Did you adopt anything from Tkachuk's ways when he was captain and use some of it after you became captain?
To a certain degree, yeah, for sure. I also recognize I didn't lead the League in goal scoring and wasn't a 50-goal scorer, so it's not like I can fully do the things he did. But the way that he carried himself and the way he is. Keith's personality is so big and so contagious. I can't say enough good things about him.
Q: Tkachuk was part of that U.S. team that beat the Canadians in 1996 in the World Cup of Hockey. Was there teasing about that?
The Americans were pretty excited that they actually won a tournament. We thought since the Americans had won another tournament, they might make another movie about it. We gave it to each other about everything. It was kind of funny because I was so excited for him and the success he had. It was a pretty good rivalry. But since he played on the team and I didn't play for Team Canada, it was more just him rubbing it in my face. He played on the team and I just watched.
Q: Has he had influence on you as a person?
One of the things that excites me most about Keith is the type of dad he is now and to see the way he is with his family and his kids, and that means a lot to me personally to see the way he is with his boys and his girl. It's fun to see because we were early on in our careers and Keith had been in the League for a little bit, and now to see him with his career over and he's a family man. That shows me even more the type of person that he is and the kind of man that he is.
Q: Are you able to see him and his family at all during the offseason?
I've only seen him once or twice since he's been done with hockey because he lives in St. Louis. His wife and his kids always come out and ride our horses here in town. So when they come out, they come to the barn and do stuff with our horses. But I don't see Keith because he's usually coaching a hockey team. Well, he's petrified of horses and it's kind of embarrassing. Petrified. He can't get close to them. It's actually kind of funny.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo