It's the best time of year!
I caught up Coyotes captain Shane Doan yesterday to get his thoughts on the team, his contract and hockey returning to Winnipeg, among other things.
RLD: I don’t think I saw one pundit pick the Coyotes to make the playoffs. Do you guys even pay attention to that stuff? Does it motivate you at all to prove those doubters wrong?
Shane Doan: It definitely bugs you – there’s no question about it. As an athlete, when people question how good you are, you’re not going to like it. I don’t think it really motivates (us) anymore; the motivation is just to find a way to win. But you definitely enjoy making certain people eat a little crow – that’s always a good thing.
With some key character losses over the summer, what’s the mindset of this team heading into a new year?
We lost Jovo, Bryz, Fids, Belly and Stemper. We lost some guys that were key players for us, and that hurts. We also brought in some key guys – Smitty, Langkow, Boyd Gordon and Raffi Torres. Those are guys that we’re going to count on. The locker room is what it is. We’ve got a great group of guys in here and it’s been that way for the last few years.
What makes Dave Tippett such a good coach?
You know where he stands. He’s very decisive in what he wants and how he wants it done. When everyone knows how concise he is in his explanation of what he wants, it makes things easier to predict where your teammates are, easier to know if you’re doing something right or wrong. Because of that, you play with a little more confidence. I think that’s the biggest part of it – he tries to instill confidence in all of his players.
Martin Hanzal has been in the news recently, receiving an extension and being named an assistant captain. Can you talk about his value to this team?
Keith Yandle is our best player, but Martin Hanzal could be our most valuable player. He’s so vital for us. He makes plays with the puck on both ends of the ice. Other teams hate playing against him. He’s a big man that plays hard. I’m a huge fan of him; I think he’s awesome. He’s one of those guys that everyone on the team loves and everyone hopes he does well. I was really happy for him with the extension, and he was a great pick to get the ‘A’.
Between you, Daymond Langkow and Ray Whitney, you guys combine to be 109 years old. What’s it like to play on an effective veteran line like that?
(Laughs) Those guys are really old; I’m not as old as them! You know what, it’s a lot of fun. We enjoy being on the ice together. I think we have pretty good chemistry. We haven’t scored yet at even strength, but we’ve found ways to do other things. Once (the production) comes, we’re going to have a lot of success. Ray makes such good plays with the puck, which is why everyone in the league calls him ‘Wizard’. Langkow just does all of those little things right. He’s always on the right side of the puck; he always makes that five-foot pass, knocks pucks down, creates turnovers. I really enjoy playing with those two players. Their experience and age really helps me.
With your contract situation coming up, is that something you’ve thought about at all?
I’m not thinking about it too much. It’s one of those things that you wish was over and done with. At the same time, the team is in a unique situation and you have to kind of wait and see. (GM) Don (Maloney) came to talk to me, and we’re fine and we agree with where we’re at.
Does the team’s future play into this situation at all?
It does and it always has. For everybody in the last three years, it’s kind of been that way. I’m sure it will be again.
Brendan Shanahan has really made some waves recently with the suspensions he’s handed out. Do you think players are starting to take note when they are on the ice?
To a certain degree, it is changing the game. I love our game. I love the way it’s played and I think it’s awesome. I understand what he is trying to do, but it’s one of those things that we really don’t have any say in. You just have to adapt to the way they call the rules now, I guess.
As a former Winnipeg Jet from the 90’s, is it cool to see that city excited about NHL hockey again?
For sure! As a Western Canadian kid, it’s cool that there is another team there. You see the situation Atlanta was in, and it was over and done with quickly, I’m sure they appreciate the fact that they get to be in such a great hockey market and enjoy it. You look at that and see how quick and clean it was, they are probably fortunate to have that. The fans of Winnipeg are going to be great to them and treat them well. They have an unbelievable ownership committee there, great management and I think it’s going to be a huge success. I’m excited and happy for them.
The Coyotes were a part of the Premiere Series last year, going over to start the season in Europe. Do you think the NHL should continue to go over there during the regular season?
I’m not sure I want to go over there again, but I think it’s an important that the league goes over there. Our sport is a global sport. It’s not narrowed down to being just in North America. Each team has players from all different countries, and it’s a great opportunity for other countries. For us to expand our sport, it’s huge and vital for us to do it.
From your experience with it, was the travel/jet lag any sort of issue for you with the Premiere Series?
It was fine. We travel all the time. The flight from Phoenix to Montreal is the same as what Boston had to do to go to the Czech Republic. It’s not much further than that. Travel wasn’t a big deal. The time zone differences mess you up, but you deal with it. If you’re in the West, you’re changing time zones every road trip anyways.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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