Not a King Sized fit
The price is wrong for veteran Shane Doan to become a Crowned Prince of Los
LOS ANGELES -- The circumstances around Shane Doan's departure from
the Phoenix Coyotes stink.
Though an ownership deal was announced during the Stanley Cup
playoffs, the required capital needed for Greg Jamison to complete the
transaction is woefully short. There is continued resistance from
local political groups trying to undermine the team's presence in
Arizona. They've lost one of their valued good-guy veterans when Ray
Whitney couldn't extract a second year on his offer from the decision
makers (see sentence two, they don't have a legitimate independent
owner, the NHL made the offer).
The Coyotes will miss Whitney, and to a lesser extent veteran
defenseman Adrian Aucoin, but they are in the midst of a cataclysmic
Doan, the unquestioned face hockey in the Desert, and one of the prime
reasons Phoenix had an underdog run to the Western Conference Finals,
is in the midst of the painful personal decision to explore the golden
land of NHL unrestricted free agency. His decision was not based in
greed, when others started entertaining offers on July 1 he took the
unique step of giving the Coyotes almost a month to firm up the
He was looking for a sign, waiting for any positive news regarding the
long-term prospects of the franchise that would justify him continuing
to howl in the desert during winter (and this year, late spring)
nights. When no word came down, Doan rightfully chose the right he's
earned; to look at other options for what stands to be the last big
contract of his NHL career. With regrets, he's started a victory tour
to see what other franchises are offering that his current employers
As it is with most high-profile UFAs, many teams call, but few get
return calls of consequence. Upwards of 16 teams have interest in the
sturdy 35-year-old winger (he missed three games this season due to
suspension, only seven due to injury over last 3 seasons). While the
offensive numbers were his lowest since the 2001-02 season, he set a
career high in hits with 205, a clear indication there is plenty left
in the tank. His leadership skills are unquestioned; he's worn the C
long and proud in the desert and has backed it with being highly
visible in the greater Phoenix area through endless community service.
The last time we left Doan and the Los Angeles Kings, there wasn't a
lot of love in the room, was there?
Courtesy of Dustin Brown's heavy hit on Coyotes defenseman Michal
Rosival, and the subsequent series winning goal when Phoenix couldn't
control their emotions, the leader of the bad feelings band was Mr.
Caught up in the emotion of the moment, Shane went rogue with out of
character actions both on the handshake line and in the post-game
locker room. With their captain full of vitriol, Mike Smith and Keith
Yandle (possibly the next Coyote to leave the den) provided additional
chirping to tarnish on a sterling playoff run.
That was May, it's now July and the combatants in that passion play
and in particular Doan now prescribe to the old saying, "Time Heals
As he explores the list of suitors, the Kings will float to the top of
the list. In a perfect world, he'd love to be close to the place he
finds peace, the five-acre horse barn in the northwest part of the
Valley of the Sun appropriately called the Ice Barns.
It's likely the place he traveled in the days just following playoff
elimination as he'll tell you, "When you are riding a horse, you kind
of forget everything else that's going on."
But life is far from perfect and with Doan not conveying what he needs
with respect to price and team, the field has yet to be narrowed to a
While proximity to his Arizona home is of importance, it's won't be
the deciding factor in inking a deal. Location does get currency when
you pair it with the fact that the defending Stanley Cup champions
reside an hour from his home and they visit Glendale three times a
year (IF they don't move to Quebec City before the season starts.)
With the primary goal of a Stanley Cup championship burning even
brighter by virtue of Doan's trip to the West Finals, it makes the
Kings likely a finalist along with the Chicago Blackhawks, a team
similar in nature to the Kings, possessing a young core with recent
championship experience. In the second tier, the Vancouver Canucks,
New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks will get
currency as perennial contenders and both organizations project that
Doan could be the missing link to a championship.
Doan understands that the Kings are set up to win for the remainder of
his NHL career. Their core players are inked to long-term paper and
have championship experience under their belts. The Kings feel they're
no longer a 29th ranked offense since Jeff Carter's plane landed at
They'd love some extra insurance and if it takes only green to get
another proven power forward, they might buy. Kings players accept the
fact that the frustration of being close to a title after so long led
to Shane's inability to contain himself in the hours after last
spring's loss. They further recognize that with Doan, they are even
harder to play against and will enhance their opportunity to defend a
crown that took forty-five years to achieve.
The fan base can start drooling of a line that has Doan and Brown
centered by Anze Kopitar causing havoc nightly. While Lombardi
miraculously brought the entire roster back by mid-July, a Doan
addition wouldn't guarantee a trade of a forward. Rookie Jordan Nolan,
who acquitted himself well in throughout the post season, would likely
start the season at the Kings AHL Manchester affiliate. The move
stands as a benefit to both player and organization as he'd be getting
top line minutes to work on his offensive game without the pressure of
having to produce with the varsity if the Doan Legacy is born in Los
Does it happen in LA? Do the rich get richer?
Until just over a week ago, we thought the likelihood of Doan landing
in Los Angeles was pretty good. Our take changed when reports filtered
out that Detroit had stepped away from the poker table because the
ante was too high. With the knowledge that the Wings had pursued
another free agent winger, but would go no higher than $5.5 million
per year on a deal, we did a comparison of the current Kings roster to
see where a $ 6 million per year winger would fit.
Over the last three seasons, Doan and Justin Williams have nearly
identical point per game averages (around .70) with Williams cap hit
is $3.65M over the next three seasons. If Doan were to come to
Tinseltown, one option would be to drop Williams to the third line,
but he'd be ill-suited for the role while having to discount the
strong chemistry he has with Kopitar and Brown. The other option would
be to deal him, but there's little logical in paying twice the price
for the same production for a player five years older.
The Blackhawks should be the favorite to land Doan because Chicago's
inability to solve their biggest problem, finding a quality second
line center enhances the need for this player. With each passing day,
the prospect of Patrick Kane in the pivot on the second line gets
closer to reality. If 88 was dishing passes to Doan in October, it
makes his job far easier. Doan would be signing on with a team only
two seasons removed from a title and with most of the youthful
championship core intact.
Doan's savvy new agent, Terry Bross, has been very media friendly by
telling any local reporter that Shane has some level of interest for
the franchise they cover. It's representation at its finest by using
fringe contenders to boost up the price, so Bross is earning every
dime he makes off this deal.
If a trip to Montreal sweetens the post, Doan will enjoy some poutine
at an outdoor cafe on Rue de St Catherine. If the Flyers, who are
short defensively, feel Doan gets them level with the Rangers, I
recommend a trip to Tony Luke's for a cheese steak. I'm not sure which
joint in Buffalo has the best wings, but Shane will be sampling some,
While it makes for an intriguing summer vacation, the feeling is that
Eastern Conference teams, while attractive for varying reasons, are
likely up the track.