For hockey fans, summertime can be a long season and almost every year in the NHL, there seems to be an unrestricted free agent or two dragging things down. Such players represent a perfect setting for those in the make-belief world of rumours, taking full advantage by feeding on the fans’ vulnerability and filling them with loads of false information presented in a way to seem credible. As we touched in a previous article here on All Habs Hockey Magazine, it is rather easy to pretend to be an insider. Those delayed UFA signings are like a pond for mosquito larva, breeding grounds for rumour bloggers and if fans aren’t armed with strong repellant, they are bound to be bitten… and often.
PENTICTON, BC. — After the wait for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, NHL fans are now waiting for veteran Shane Doan to decide what he will be doing next season. Actually, Doan has been quite clear: he wants to stay in Phoenix and that’s his number one priority! The hitch is the franchise’s uncertainty.
The NHL has owned the Coyotes for a few years now and Gary Bettman has been trying long and hard to find an owner who would be willing to keep the team in Glendale. As we know, this situation is far from being resolved and it still has several hurdles to overcome.
In all of this, Shane Doan has been a very patient man. He has given the Coyotes every chance to get a deal in place assuring him that the team will stay in Phoenix, and then he will sign with them. The bottom line is that Doan is happy in Phoenix and so is his family. But if the team is going to move, he wants to be the one deciding where he will be moving instead of being forced into a city on a relocation dictated by the NHL. In the latest developments, Doan’s decision could very well hinge on a discussion with potential buyer Greg Jamison in what appears to be a last minute effort to get an answer on the status of Jamison’s bid to purchase the Coyotes. If the Coyotes’ captain doesn’t receive the reassurance he needs, talks with other interested teams will likely begin.
Doan’s agent reportedly said that if an agreement was not reached with Jamison by Friday, it was likely that Doan would land elsewhere. By the end of the day, the Doan camp hadn’t heard a peep from Jamison. So where could the Phoenix captain end up?
In somewhat surprising news, the Montreal Canadiens were named as one of the possible destinations for Doan. In an interview with Le Journal de Montreal last week, Doan mentioned the respect he has for Marc Bergevin as one of the main reasons why he would consider an offer from the Habs. In this particular interview, there were no mentions about Carey Price and the fact that both men are second cousins. While I don’t know that for sure, I’m guessing that it likely has to do with the fact that Price is much younger and was raised in a small remote village, Anahim Lake, in the northwest of British Columbia, while Doan grew up in the village of Halkirk Alberta, located East of Red Deer, close to the Saskatchewan border. They may not be that close.
Why is it surprising news? For a few reasons but one stands out: the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers and the Vancouver Canucks have all shown serious interest in Doan, who will turn 36 in October. When comparing those teams to the Canadiens, even the most hardcore, rose glasses wearing fans will have to recognize the difference between those teams and their beloved Habs: they are all serious Stanley Cup contenders compared to the Habs, who did finish last in the Eastern Conference a year ago and 28th overall in the entire NHL. While many will agree that last year’s team was better than the results shown, they are still lacking the top end talent that the other above-mentioned teams have at this time.
While I don’t doubt that Shane Doan might have some interest in wearing the most storied jersey in the history of the NHL, one has to wonder how much of it is curiosity and how much is true, genuine interest. After all, shouldn’t a 36-year-old veteran who has never won the Stanley Cup want to sign with a team with the best shot at fulfilling his dream?
Maybe I’m being pessimistic. Maybe I’m remembering how Vincent Lecavalier, in two occasions in his career, has used the media by talking about his interest to play for the Habs, only to set himself up to get a better contract with the Lightning? Maybe I’m also remembering how Brendan Shanahan pulled a similar stunt before finally signing with the Rangers? Or maybe it’s because I remember Jaromir Jagr doing the exact same thing twice (this summer being the last time) and hit the jackpot elsewhere each time?
Then again, it could just be out of concern that, in my humble opinion and without pretending to have any inside source on the matter, the only way Doan signs in Montreal is if they do like they did for Brandon Prust, by offering well above what the competition offers?
The risk with Doan is much higher though as with the CBA the way it is written today, he would be signing a contract over the age of 35, which means that his salary would count against the cap no matter what happens, even if he chose to retire at some point. Others will say that Doan is in great shape. He trains hard and could play until he’s 40 or more. At 6’1” and 223 lbs, having played a physical game his entire career, it is definitely a risk.
Last but not least, how would the media react to having Doan sign in Montreal after the whole language ordeal of 2005? Doan sued Denis Coderre after the Liberal MP accused him of making derogatory statements towards a francophone referee during a game in Montreal in which the Phoenix player received a gross misconduct penalty — looking for headlines Coderre counter-sued. Doan denied making the comment claiming that he was falsely accused — after an investigation he was cleared by the league. The two settled out of court in August 2010.
There is no denying that Shane Doan makes the Canadiens a better team. To overpay or not to overpay: that is the question!