Long-time Arizona Coyotes captain and star Shane Doan announced his retirement on Wednesday. Back in 2012, the Vancouver Canucks nearly pried him away from The Desert. What if Doan had signed with the Canucks?
Yesterday morning, former Arizona Coyotes captain and could-have-been Vancouver Canucks star Shane Doan announced his retirement from the NHL. Doan and the Coyotes parted ways in free agency, and no other team came forward to sign Doan.
With that, a career that is sure to culminate in a Hockey Hall of Fame induction came to an end. Doan scored 402 goals and 972 points in a career that started in 1995-96 — the final season for the original Winnipeg Jets franchise before they relocated to The Desert.
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Doan will always be remembered for being one of the most loyal players ever. Long-time NHL writer Lyle Richardson — better known as Spector’s Hockey — summed it up best:
"In his prime, Doan was a physical two-way winger who reached the 20-goal mark 13 times and 40 points 14 times. He was also very loyal to a Coyotes franchise that saw more bad times than good during his tenure, including several ownership changes, an arena debacle in Glendale and continuous uncertainty over its future in Arizona."
As loyal was Doan truly was to the Coyotes, the Canucks actually came somewhat close to signing Doan in 2012. While the NHL was in the midst of a lockout (that ultimately killed half of the 2012-13 season), Doan was a free agent and was reportedly choosing between the Canucks and the Coyotes:
Doan ultimately re-signed with the Coyotes on a four-year deal worth $21.2 million, according to CapFriendly.com. It was quite a blow for the Canucks, who could have used the two-way star after bowing out to the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
What could have been
Imagine Doan had signed with the Canucks in 2012. They would have added a veteran who was coming off a 22-goal, 50-point season. He could have slotted in nicely on a line with the Sedin twins, or even star centre Ryan Kesler.
Vancouver really needed Doan’s offence for that 2013 first round matchup against the San Jose Sharks, which culminated in an ugly four-game sweep. The Canucks were limited to eight goals in that series.
In 2013-14, the Canucks missed the playoffs by eight points. Doan scored 23 goals and 47 points that season. Throw in his strong leadership and two-way play that could have made him a weapon in John Tortorella’s system, and Vancouver could have totally been a playoff team. That could have salvaged both ‘Torts’ and general manager Mike Gillis another year on the job.
Vancouver made the playoffs in 2015, though Doan was limited to 14 goals and 36 points that season. Unlikely he would have been the difference maker in that first round series against the Calgary Flames.
The Vancouver Canucks narrowly missed out on the Shane Doan sweepstakes in 2012. The organization hasn’t experienced much success since he chose to remain with the Coyotes franchise. You can’t help but wonder how things could have been different if he took his talents to the west coast.
Would things be all that different? Possibly. Had the Canucks made the playoffs with Doan in 2014, it’s possible Tortorella and Gillis would have kept their jobs even longer.
And with the way Gillis ran this team, Vancouver would probably not even be in rebuilding mode right now. Indeed, Doan’s decision to stay with the Coyotes could have played a hand in altering the Canucks future in a way we never envisioned.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*