Doan’s Faith Still Strong After 21 Years in the NHL


Veteran stands tall as Coyotes’ captain

by Scott Taylor

Shane Doan has gone through a lot during his 20 years with the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise of the National Hockey League. And while most of it has been wonderful, there have also been some moments to forget.

He was once called “anti-French” by former Liberal MP and current mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, after a post-game incident in 2005. He sued Coderre for defamation and it was settled in 2010. In 2014, he caught Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2010, he made it to the playoffs for the first time in nine years and then missed the final four games of a seven-game series the Coyotes lost.

Then there was that stretch in the late-2000s when it appeared as if the Coyotes, the only team with which Doan has ever played, were flat broke, losing money and about to move.

For Doan, the seeming daily criticism of the Coyotes, the franchise for which he was captain, forced him to dig deep into a lifetime of faith. For Doan, who was originally drafted seventh overall by Winnipeg Jets (version 1.0) in 1995, the constant criticism of the only hockey club for which he has ever played was both embarrassing and hurtful.

“It just wasn’t right,” Doan once told me. “It was very, very disappointing to see the people I’d worked with and worked for, people that had been very good to me and my family, being called worthless, that the franchise was being referred to as worthless. I took it all personally. I was the captain. I felt like this was my team and those were my friends and I knew that we were better.”

Doan is the type of guy who has always worn his heart and his faith on his sleeve and now, in the midst of his 21st season in the National Hockey League—all with the same organization—Doan has seen it all. At least, if he hasn’t seen it all, he’s seen most of it.

And whenever times get rough, he just refers to Scripture.

“Throughout my career, I often found myself recalling Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,’” Doan said. “There were times, like during the terrible incident in Montreal, when I’ll admit, it’s hard to see the good. But I’ve never strayed from the Scripture’s guidance and I’ve always found that things will work themselves out.”

No question about that. In fact, before the start of this season, Doan admitted that his entire career had been a blessing.

“Every day I’m in the NHL is awesome, and I never really thought much more,” he said. “I thought if I got to play one game, I was going to be happy…I mean, obviously there’s been some ups and downs and I’m fairly competitive, ultra-competitive at times and get in trouble that way. But at the same time, I’ve been so blessed. I love playing and if I didn’t get to play anymore, I’d be really sad. But I’ve been blessed way more than what I’ve ever imagined.”

Shane Doan is an interesting study. Now 39, he grew up in Halkirk, Alberta, where his grandfather and father operated the Circle Square Ranch, a child and youth ministry that is part of the Crossroads Family of Ministries.

People have inaccurately described the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Doan as “a born-again,” but that’s not really true. Christ has been part of Doan’s life since birth and there was never a time in which he lost, or gave up, his personal relationship with the Lord. Not in any sense of the word.

In fact, almost from the day he was born, Doan was immersed in Bible study and he’ll be the first to admit that there has not been a moment in his life when the lessons learned living with Circle Square haven’t been a source of guidance and inspiration. It has helped get him through 21 years in the toughest—and best—hockey league in the world.

“Circle Square is a huge part of my life,” Doan said. “From the time I was six months old, I was a part of the ranch. I grew up attending the campfires every week, sitting around, listening to some of the most compelling Christian speakers and ministers in the world. It has been a major part of my life and it and my family are still there, 39 years later.”

Scott Taylor is a Winnipeg-based sportswriter and broadcaster.