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August 7, 2012 | 2:41pm ET


Not a King Sized fit
The price is wrong for veteran Shane Doan to become a Crowned Prince of Los Angeles.

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 event.

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 ownership situation.

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 can't.

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. Doan.

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 all Wounds."

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 significant few.

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 LAX.

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 Angeles.

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, too.

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.

Giddy up.

Dennis Bernstein is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period Magazine. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


 

 

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