The face of a franchise
Doan arrived in Kamloops as a 16-year-old three years earlier, a late-bloomer who wasn’t taken in the WHL’s bantam draft. He was a big kid way back then, straight off the Halkirk ranch, and really started to emerge the next season as a top-flight candidate for the 1995 entry draft. It didn’t hurt that he was playing on some of the most dominant junior teams of all time, but Doan still managed to outshine many of his teammates, a group that included the likes of Jarome Iginla (who, admittedly, is eight months younger).
Doan was the Memorial Cup MVP in May, 1995, and was drafted seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets two months later. Iginla, meanwhile, was further down the Blazers depth chart, a less-heralded second-liner who would drop to 11th in that same draft.
Looking back, it’s almost as if Doan’s sudden transformation into a junior star hit a wall when he turned pro the next season with a terrible Winnipeg team. He managed just 22 goals and 62 points in his first 249 NHL games, a tough way to spend your first four years of pro hockey.
Doan has since developed into a dependable 25-goal, 60-point player, the kind of big-bodied winger a ton of NHL teams would love to have patrolling their second line. What he shouldn’t be is the “face of the franchise,” which is the term we’re hearing bandied about today after he signed a mammoth five-year, $23-million contract extension.
Unfortunately, it’s a designation that’s perhaps fitting for a captain whose franchise has been short on recognizable faces — save for the one behind the bench — in its 10-season history.
Doan is 30 years old, and will turn 35 in the first week of the last year of this contract. One would be hard-pressed to make an argument that he’s ready to step up and provide any more offence than he has to this point. If anything, he’s primed for a drop-off, something we’ve begun to see this season with just 19 goals and 35 points through 48 games.
Is that worth $4.6-million in today’s economic system? I doubt it. But when you’re the Coyotes, you need a face for your franchise, a tie to the past that keeps the continuum of mediocrity in the desert intact.
Like I said, I like Shane Doan. It’s just unfortunate that his hockey career hit its plateau 12 years ago at Riverside Coliseum.
- Spector has more on his blog