Will ‘nice guy’ Shane Doan finish first, for once?
NBC Playoff Coverage
Game 3: Phoenix Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings, series tied 1-1
Live on NBC at 3:00 PM ET
Often sportswriters will decry a younger athlete’s “lack of effort” and say that they’re guilty of assuming that they’ll be in a championship situation every year. I wonder how that kind of talk would work with Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan who, at age 33, made the playoffs for the first time since he was 25.
To say that it’s been a challenge for the under-the-radar power forward is probably as much of an understatement as it is to say that the Coyotes’ impressive playoff run has been surprising. There’s some irony (is it irony, or a coincidence? Seriously, thanks a lot, Alanis Morissette.) to this Cinderella season for Doan. While he struggled to his lowest scoring totals since he was 23 - struggles that kept him from making Team Canada after being Captain Canada* - the team he’s suffered in obscurity for is having a record-breaking season.
* - Actually, Ryan Smyth is “Captain Canada” but Doan has been such a reliable annual resource to Team Canada’s World Championship squads that he might as well be deemed “Alternate Captain Canada.”
No doubt about it, Doan is one of those players hockey fans turn to as “good guys.” Sure, his hard hitting style ruffles some feathers from time-to-time, but beyond laundry loyalty, it is hard to find a person who isn’t at least partially rooting for the spirited captain and his band of vagabonds. He’s received plaudits for his down-to-earth demeanor and his check-you-through-walls intensity in equal portions. Heck, he’s even received the odd deification that comes with a Puck Daddy Photoshop contest (laser beams!).
For eight long years - and really, his whole career when you consider the fact that the Coyotes peaked in the Conference Quarter Finals - it’s been easy for sports writers to copy and paste a “Nice Guys Finish Last” story for Doan. Will that happen again to the Coyotes, or will the ultimate underdogs (they might not even have a home, after all) topple the Evil Empire?
This afternoon’s game will go a long way in answering that question.