Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

By Ethan Greni | February 8, 2021

Shane Doan is a name that’s synonymous with hockey in the desert.

The former Arizona Coyotes captain has returned to the organization as the team’s chief hockey development officer.

“I am so excited about the opportunity to be back, and be able to be part of the organization,” Doan says.

“Having the opportunity to play here for as long as I did was such a blessing, and to be part of the organization going forward is just an absolute dream come true for me.”

Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez says Doan’s new role with the club will be “focusing on business as well as being a strategic adviser on hockey operations.”

“Having great people around who are (not) just knowledgeable but also good people, it’s a huge aspect of a winning culture,” says Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong. “We plan to produce that here, and (Doan’s) going to be a big part of that.”

For Doan, this fulfills a longtime goal. The Coyotes are the only NHL team he’s ever known, and he wants it to stay that way.

“I’d obviously hoped and wanted for the opportunity to do this,” Doan says. “I don’t know if I was thinking it would come right now with everything that’s going on, but I was pretty excited about this opportunity to be involved and help do whatever I can to help out.”

Doan says he believes his perspective on the franchise’s past will allow him to guide it into the future.

“I think probably the biggest thing is that I’ve been in the Valley the whole time, and I’ve seen the history of our team and I’ve seen the history of the organization,” Doan says.

“An understanding of kind of where you’ve come from sometimes helps out when you’re planning the direction of where you’re going in the future.”

Gutierrez, who became the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history when he joined the Coyotes in June 2020, says Doan has been a supporter of his from the beginning. That connection led to Doan’s inevitable return to the Coyotes.

“I have to give you a little secret,” Gutierrez says. “Shane was one of the first people who called me to really congratulate me, and it really spoke volumes of the individual that he is. He’s obviously been a legend in the Valley for so many years, and it just epitomized who Shane is as a person.”

In addition to bringing the Stanley Cup to Arizona, Gutierrez says he and Doan hope to bolster the Valley’s youth hockey scene.

“We want to really create an umbrella sort of relationship with all the youth hockey leagues and the youth hockey rinks here that I’m not sure currently exists,” Gutierrez says. “Clearly we could benefit from (Doan’s) knowledge and relationships and network in that space.”

Doan spent the past three years working with the NHL’s hockey operations department and hopes the skills he learned there will help the organization continue to grow.

“(It’s) been incredible,” Doan says. “It was an absolute blessing in the fact that I got to learn so much from some incredible men. I hope that I can kind of come here and continue to learn from (Gutierrez and Armstrong).”

For Gutierrez, Doan’s legacy in Arizona can’t be overstated, even if Doan himself is more modest about his impact.

“I kid with him that there is the Mount Rushmore of sports in Arizona, and Shane Doan is on it,” Gutierrez says. “I know he gets very sheepish when I say that, but I say that not only from respect, but also where (he) can take us.”

Doan played all 21 seasons of his NHL career with the Coyotes organization, relocating with the team from Winnipeg after his rookie season in 1996. He held the title of team captain for 13 seasons until his retirement in 2017.

Doan holds many team records with 1,540 games played, 402 goals, 570 assists, and 972 points. The team retired the two-time NHL All Star’s No. 19 jersey in 2019.

“(The Coyotes) have, obviously, a special place in my heart,” Doan says. “Getting to know Xavier has made it so comfortable for me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know Bill, and everything that the hockey ops department’s doing, and helping out in any way possible.”