Doan lobbying Smith to re-sign in Phoenix


Shane Doan will be back with the Coyotes next season.

He hopes Mike Smith is too.

To that end, the Phoenix captain admitted he’s openly lobbied Smith — an unrestricted free agent on July 5 — to re-sign in the desert.

“I didn’t put any undue pressure on him, other than how badly I want to play with him and be with him on my team,” Doan told the Arizona Republic. “I think that’s well-known.”

Doan told the Republic he and Smith crossed paths in Vancouver 10 days ago, at which time Doan made his pitch for Smith to stick with the ‘Yotes.

It’ll be interesting to see what Smith does.

The 31-year-old has enjoyed a career renaissance in Phoenix. He finished fourth in Vezina and 11th in Hart Trophy voting last season, thanks to a stellar campaign in which he won 38 games while posting a 2.21 GAA, .930 save percentage and eight shutouts.

This year, Smith battled through injury to appear in 34 games for Phoenix and while his numbers were down — .910 save percentage, 2.58 GAA — he did post a NHL-high five shutouts.

The former Stars and Lightning goalie is hitting free agency at a strange time. His performance warrants a raise on the two-year, $4 million deal he signed with Phoenix in 2011, but the salary cap is falling to $64.3 million and the goalie market is flush.

Smith, Niklas Backstrom and Evgeni Nabokov are all legit No. 1 netminders that could become UFAs, and the trade market is expected to include the likes of Roberto Luongo, Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier.

As for Doan, he’s just hoping Smith chooses Phoenix — and chooses soon.

“It would be huge for us to get our answers and not have to worry about that,” Doan said.

“Nothing would make me happier.”

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.