With just 12 games left in the season, the Arizona Coyotes find themselves sitting 28th in the NHL, tied on 50 points with Edmonton, just three up on last-place Buffalo and right in the thick of the McEichel Derby.
For the organization, there’s silver lining in the prospect of landing a generational talent like Conor McDavid or Jack Eichel at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
But for veteran captain Shane Doan, this year has been lousy.
“Obviously, it’s kind of embarrassing,” Doan said, per Mayor’s Manor. “As a player, it’s always tough. You never want to be stuck in this situation, but we are and we have to deal with it. The new guys coming in, they’ve played well. We’ve been in games; we just haven’t found ways to win, and that’s the name of it.
“It’s just disappointing. You just feel bad, we’ve been bad. There’s no way to get around it. We’ve been bad and we have to be better.”
Doan, 39, is one of a few holdovers from the team that went to the Western Conference Final just three years ago. Fellow vets Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek and Keith Yandle were traded at this year’s deadline, the latest in an exodus that previously saw Radim Vrbata, Raffi Torres, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney and Rostislav Klesla all leave town.
The result? Arizona’s slumped steadily and hit rock bottom this season, especially over the last 16 games — the Coyotes are 1-14-1 and Doan’s one pace for one of the least productive seasons of his career (averaging .46 points per game, his lowest since ’97-98.)
Earlier this month, Doan expressed dismay about the direction Arizona was taking, saying a rebuild “was not my idea,” and “not my ideal situation.”
That was met with a rather sharp reply from GM Don Maloney.
“I get it, I understand it, but we’re not in the Girl Scout business,” Maloney said, per Arizona Sports. “We’re in the business of winning. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re getting paid.
“Shane’s a pro, he’ll get through it, he’ll understand it when he sees where this can take us.”
That back-and-forth reignited talks about Doan’s future in the desert. He’s in the third of a four-year, $21.2 million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, leading many to speculate he could be on the move to a contender.
Doan didn’t say he wanted to be moved, but didn’t rule it out either.
“I really haven’t thought too much about it, going forward,” he explained. “It’s one of those things – we have 14, 15 games to go. Every game you get to play in the NHL is pretty special. I don’t want to miss those games. I want to make sure I’m focused on them and enjoying the moment that we’re in; not getting caught up worrying about what’s going to happen in the future.
“When you get there, it will take care of itself.”