Is Shane Doan the most under-appreciated athlete in Arizona sports history?


BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com writer

Phoenix Coyotes veteran Shane Doan has been in the Arizona desert for his entire 15-year career, but is he appreciated by fan in the Grand Canyon State? Photo by: Bridget Samuels / Flickr

What are the odds of Shane Doan being recognized if he walked into any random supermarket around Phoenix at any point between 1996 and 2011? I’m not sure, he’s a big guy, but you could find plenty of 6-foot-2, 220-pound bros at your local gym.  If you lined him up with Luis Gonzalez, Steve Nash, and Larry Fitzgerald, who do you think an average Arizona sports fan would gravitate to first?

Maybe at this point his popularity has increased incrementally, but over the past 15 years, given the amount of coverage the Phoenix Coyotes have received, I doubt Arizona fans have given Doan his proper due.

He’s the longest tenured professional athlete in Arizona sports today, and a last remaining member of the original Winnipeg Jets when they moved to downtown Phoenix in 1996, but I’m wondering how much he’s really appreciated overall. To give his time here some perspective, there are no current Expos with the Washington Nationals, and it’s been around seven years since that franchise moved from Montreal. You seldom get players to stick around in the same city for an extended period of time, and Doan has done it with the least popular franchise in Arizona.

How overshadowed has Doan been? Let’s think about the other three sports teams in Phoenix.

The Arizona Cardinals have toiled in obscurity for most of their time in the desert, and suddenly a new stadium and a Super Bowl appearance makes them the talk of the town.  Given how the NFL has overall increased in popularity, the Cardinals are certainly a big deal come September, and having a likeable figure like Larry Fitzgerald only adds to the Cards bandwagon.

The Arizona Diamondbacks won a World Series in 2011, there is tremendous reverence for Luis Gonzalez, and others like Matt Williams, Randy Johnson, Schilling, and Steve Finley ect. The D-Backs are an item again after making the playoffs and featuring a core of players who have been around since 2007 like Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, and Miguel Montero.

The Phoenix Suns have enjoyed success and praise during the Steve Nash era, bringing the team to the brink of a championship in the last decade have revitalized interest in the NBA overall, and they could potentially make the playoffs this season as well.

Doan and his Coyotes have put up with more organizational uncertainly than any team in professional sports in the recent years.  With the franchise already going through bankruptcy, and the threat of moving back to Canada looming in the last few years, going out there and putting it all on the ice has to be a slightly bigger challenge that most other players would normally deal with.

Hope appears to be on the horizon as plans to keep the team in Glendale should somewhat stabilize uncertainty that a potential loss to Nashville might be their last in the desert.

Despite all the BS, Doan has stuck around, and he probably had many opportunities to leave the unforgiving heat and lackadaisical fan base behind, but he didn’t.  He deserves uncensored love and admiration when the Coyotes drop the puck against the Nashville Predators this Friday night.

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