The Big Interview: Arizona Coyotes Captain Shane Doan

shane doan

Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan sat down to take part in an exclusive interview with XN Sports writer Sean Hartnett. In this one-on-one, Doan recalls his memories of the original Winnipeg Jets, Teemu Selanne embracing him during his rookie season and discuss his relationship with Martin St. Louis.

Having spent 19 seasons in the NHL, Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan has a wealth of stories to share. The 38-year-old has played his entire career with one franchise, albeit one that moved from the bitter cold of Winnipeg to the dry heat of the Arizona desert. Doan is the is the final active player to have played for the original Winnipeg Jets.

Back in his 1995-96 rookie season, Doan began the year as a wide-eyed 18-year-old rookie. He remembers being in awe of superstar teammate Teemu Selanne. At 25, “The Finnish Flash” had already become one of the league’s brightest stars and most recognizable personalities.

“I told all my friends that I saw one of the most impressive guys I had ever played with,” Doan said.

Prior to being traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Feb. 6, 1996, Selanne had recorded a whopping 72 points in 51 games for the Jets. Even though Doan only spent a half-season as Selanne’s teammate, the duo bonded during their brief time as teammates during the final season of the original Jets.

“He was an awesome guy who was so generous with his time,” Doan said. “The fact that he was so generous with his time with me as an 18-year-old kid really meant something. He cared and helped me out. Him and Eddie Olcyzk were both really good to me. There was a bunch of them – we had an older team with Dave Mason and Kris King. Obviously, we had some great guys like Keith Tkachuk and Teppo Numminen. That last season in Winnipeg was a fun time.”

Selanne finally retired in 2014 after 21 remarkable seasons. Stories of him being the ultimate teammate will continue to surface for years to come. Every player who played with Selanne has a great Teemu story. Doan shared one of his favorite Selanne stories on Thursday afternoon prior to Arizona’s meeting with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

“When I played in Winnipeg, we’d always have a connecting flight to Minnesota because we flew commercial,” Doan said. “We flew from Winnipeg to Minnesota, then we’d fly Minnesota-Chicago, Minnesota-St. Louis, Minnesota-Dallas or wherever. Back then, Minnesota didn’t have a team. For awhile, it was the only international flight out of Winnipeg for awhile.”

Long layovers at Minnesota-St. Paul International Airport meant that the Jets had to find ways to entertain themselves between flights. Thankfully, the Lindbergh Terminal featured multiple arcade areas.

Selanne was – and still is obsessed with racing. Back then, Selanne raced rally cars in Finland under the alias of “Teukka Salama” – which translates to English as “Teddy Flash.”

Okay. Picture this – two famous hockey players stuffing rolls of quarters in their pockets and competing hard over “Daytona USA,” “Ridge Racer” and “Sega Rally.”

“We got to know the Minnesota airport really, really well,” Doan said. “Teemu loves to race cars. I was only eighteen years old, he was probably 25. In the Minnesota airport arcade, you’d see Teemu Selanne and myself. We’d go into the arcades with rolls of quarters in our pockets. I thought it was the coolest thing ever that this NHL superstar wanted to play racing games with me. I was just following along and loving every minute of it. If there was a racing game anywhere on the road, Teemu was probably playing it.”

Years later in 1999, Selanne made Finnish national news when he crashed a Toyota Corolla while practicing for a Finnish rally race. He had finished 24th in Rally Finland in 1998. Selanne received a $50,000 fine for the crash.

At 38, Doan is one of the league’s elder statesmen. Only eight skaters – Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Gonchar, Martin St. Louis, Bryce Salvador, Patrik Elias, Dan Boyle, Lubomir Visnovsky and Eric Boulton are older than Doan.

For years, St. Louis and Doan have been good friends. They formed a close relationship representing Canada at various international tournaments.

“We’re close friends,” Doan said. “It’s funny. My youngest boy Carson always tells me to say hi to Louie when we play the Rangers. He’s gotten to know him well enough.

“He’s obviously such an elite player. He’s a Hall-of-Fame guy. He’s done so much, won a Stanley Cup, won a couple of Art Ross Trophies. It’s cool to see a guy with his personality be successful. I cheer for him. He’s such a competitive guy. I’ve always admired him. I’m a big fan.”

Over the years, Doan and St. Louis have been frequent golf partners. When they’re on the golf course, Marty’s humorous personality really comes out.

“Yes, he enjoys his own jokes as much as anybody,” Doan said. “He’s got some really good jokes that he does on the driving range that is really funny. He’s just a great guy to be around. Marty’s enjoyable. He loves life. That’s a big part of someone that you enjoy being around.”

During last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals, St. Louis’ life was rocked by the death of his mother. France St. Louis passed away on May 8, 2014 at the age of 63.

“The courage and the strength that he showed was pretty incredible,” Doan said. “You felt for him and the rest of his family. It affected him as a player a lot. As a dad, it probably affected him even more, you know it affects your kids and your family. What he did was amazing.”

St. Louis would go on to play an integral role in helping the Rangers come back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games. His effort and inspiration helped propel the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five game. St. Louis led the Rangers with eight playoff goals and his 15 points was tied for second-highest on the team.

Doan and 39-year-old St. Louis are among a rare group of productive players approaching the age of 40.

“It’s remarkable what guys like Marty and Doaner are doing,” Coyotes teammate Keith Yandle said. “They continue to play at such a high level and they bring it every day. It’s cool to see. You can only hope and pray that you can be like them.”

Doan has enjoyed a tremendous 19-year career all with one franchise. 1,375 career games, 366 goals, 525 assists, 891 points – long may it continue.

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Sean Hartnett
Sean Hartnett has covered the New York Rangers and the NHL for since 2011. He has covered two Stanley Cup Finals. Sean now contributes to XNSports’ NHL and general sports coverage. He devotes far too much of his free time watching Simpsons and Seinfeld reruns. Sean can be reached via Twitter @HartnettHockey.