By Stu Hackel
Perhaps some day soon, Shane Doan will decide that he’ll forgo being captain of the Phoenix Coyotes and start working his unrestricted free agent status. He wants to remain in the desert, but if and when that desire changes, the line for getting his name on a contract will form on the right. Step right up, step right up. Who will be ready with their pitch and their pen? The Blues, Sabres, Red Wings, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Rangers, Flyers, Sharks, Penguins, Blackhawks, Kings, Canucks, and Canadiens. Those are just the teams we know about. Doan’s agent says the number is closer to 16. Anyone else? The Stars perhaps? Or the Avalanche? How about the Oilers? A return to Winnipeg?
It might be easier to list the clubs we know won’t pursue Doan. There’s some thought that he wants to stay out West, but the Eastern teams listed above haven’t been dissuaded by his agent, Terry Bross, who seems fond of telling all who inquire that “Shane is interested” in whatever team asks about him. Except the Bruins, for some strange reason. Doan would be a great Bruin.
Everyone loves Shane Doan. What’s not to love, especially in a free agent market where the elite items have already been snapped off the shelves? At 35 years old (36 in October), Doan is a proven power forward, always good for around 20 goals. He gets his assists, too, although that number dropped from 40 to 28 last season, his lowest output since 2006-07. A rugged customer, Doan’s fine hockey IQ makes up for what he lacks in foot speed. Probably of most significance, he is a proven leader, among the best in the sport. Look at how well the Coyotes have done during the last few years, sticking together and staying competitive despite playing in the most screwed up situation in the league, if not pro sports. For their success, they have Doan’s leadership to thank as much as anyone’s.
But, in the convoluted nature of nearly everything that pertains to the never-ending, tortuous and tort-filled agony that is the business side of the Coyotes, Doan apparently hasn’t decided yet whether he’s staying with Glendale’s favorite NHL team even though he was supposed to make that decision on Monday. That was the earliest possible day when Greg Jamison, who is trying to purchase the franchise from the NHL, would gain some additional clarity about his various dealings with the City of Glendale. As part of their proposed lease agreement, the city would pay Jamison’s ownership group a substantial fee, ranging from $10 to $20 million annually for 20 years, to operate Jobing.com Arena. However, forces in Glendale don’t think that’s such a good idea in a town suffering serious fiscal problems, and some people want to challenge the lease.
Local residents Ken Jones and Joe Cobb have circulated a petition to get the lease agreement on the ballot in November so voters have a chance to shoot it down. The signatures were due on Monday, 30 days from the time the lease was agreed upon, and the legal maximum time for challenging it. As Sarah McLellan reported in Tuesday’s Arizona Republic, when Jones and Cobb didn’t meet the 30-day deadline, they claimed they couldn’t get the petition forms from Glendale until a week after the lease agreement was reached, so their clock should be extended for another seven days. Back and forth the petitioners and the city have gone on this matter without any resolution.
On Monday evening, Bross told Bob McCown and Michael Grange over Toronto radio Fan 590 (audio) that he was going to huddle with his client that night and figure out what these latest murky developments mean to Doan’s future. The player and his agent don’t want to wait too long, but they do want to know if the Coyotes’ sale is likely to go forward. If so, Doan’s decision has already been made and he’ll wear his C in Arizona for one last contract. If it looks as if this thing will continue to drag on with Jamison, the city, various citizens and others unable to agree on the acceptability of the lease, Bross says Doan fears the team will be moved somewhere else and be run by an owner whose commitment to winning the Stanley Cup may not match the veteran captain’s. So it’s either Glendale with Jamison or Doan starts to meet and greet the line of other NHL teams that would like to see him skating on their side, and weigh their proposals.
“I don’t feel like we’re any closer to a resolution,” Bross told McLellan later that evening. “If we weren’t dealing with what we’re dealing with, I don’t think there’d be any interest on his part in any of this. Unfortunately, if this thing goes south and it’s not going to happen, I think that there are a few teams that for Shane are, for the lack of a better word, the lesser of two evils.
“I think (Tuesday) we’ll make some decisions,” Bross said. “I wouldn’t say anything’s imminent.”
They did. On Tuesday, Bross said he and Doan were giving the sale process one more week. “I would say if we don’t have an answer by the 16th, it may be time to gets serious about listening to other teams’ offers,” Bross said (quoted by Fox Sports Arizona). “If it’s going to turn into legal wrangling, then I would say it might be time to move on.”
Until then, all those teams will have to wait to see if they get to step right up…
…and form a line.
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