Sports Hockey

Jets fans should cheer for Doan

Kirk Penton, QMI Agency
Coyotes #19 Shane Doan on the ice at The MTS Centre in Winnipeg during team practice in Winnipeg.  (Chris Procaylo/QMI Agency)

Coyotes #19 Shane Doan on the ice at The MTS Centre in Winnipeg during team practice in Winnipeg. (Chris Procaylo/QMI Agency)


Does Shane Doan deserve to get booed on Thursday night?

Of course not.

The Phoenix Coyotes captain will skate onto Winnipeg ice for a regular-season NHL game for the first time since his rookie seasons with the Jets in 1995-96. He will no doubt hear some boos for his statement in the spring that he didn’t want to leave Phoenix.

What some Manitoba hockey fans heard when Doan said he didn’t want to leave Arizona because it had become home for him and his family was that Winnipeg sucked. Of course they did.

The Coyotes held a practice at MTS Centre on Wednesday afternoon, and when Doan met with the media afterwards the questions were about the boos he expected to hear. But shouldn’t he get some cheers for being a member of the original Jets?

“I guess we’ll wait and see,” Doan said.

The 35-year-old said all the right things before a small gathering of reporters, reiterating his stance that he never had anything against coming back to Winnipeg.

“I never ever said I didn’t want to come here,” Doan said. “I said that I wanted to stay in Phoenix, exactly the same way as if I’d been in Winnipeg for 15 years and someone told me I had to leave. I would’ve said, hey, this is where my family’s from. I never once said I didn’t want to come.

“Other people may have said that I’ve wanted to say that or insinuated that I might’ve said that, but I’ve never once said that and I appreciate the fact that people at least listened to what I said and not what other people said about me.”

The fans probably won’t let that slide, however, and Doan is ready for any kind of reception.

“I look forward to it,” he said. “You look at the emotion and the excitement that was created around the team and the way the fans got behind the team here, every player enjoys that and wants to be part of that and you watch it from the outside and you see the energy and excitement, and you want to experience that and play in front of that.”

Doan was a seventh-overall draft pick of the Jets in 1995, and he scored seven goals in 74 games for the Jets during their last season in the Manitoba capital before they bolted for Phoenix.

“The montage might not be too long,” he said with a laugh. “I only was here for 74 games and didn’t score a lot of goals, but at the same time it was something special. And to say you were a part of the original Jets is something I hold near and dear.”

And that’s why Doan deserves to be applauded, not booed. The man is loyal. He’s been with the same organization for all 17 of his NHL seasons. He’s not the one who moved to Phoenix. He was 19 years old, and his NHL team was leaving town.

So take your boos and turn them to cheers when he’s introduced before the game. Then, when the puck drops, you can let him have it because he’s the opposition, not because he didn’t want to come play in Winnipeg.

“The fans love their team, and you appreciate that,” Doan said. “Hey, as a player you love the emotion that they’ve brought to their club and the way that they cheer for their guys. And anybody that comes into this building that is playing against them is the enemy, and you understand that and love that and you hope that they bring that emotion.”