There remains only one active NHL player from the 1995-96 Winnipeg Jets roster. Shane Doan, 18 at the time, is now 39 and playing his 20st season for the Jets/Coyotes organization. Ahead of his visit here Tuesday, the Coyotes captain spoke with Free Press hockey writer Tim Campbell on these matters:
Free Press: You may get a rough ride from the fans Tuesday, having run into Ondrej Pavelec the last time here. Pavelec has been out since. Are you ready for it?
Shane Doan: Hey, I did not mean to run into the goalie and I went down as far as I could so I wouldn’t hurt him. Unfortunately, I’m a little old and I don’t skate near as well as I used to and I lost my balance on that one. But I talked to Pav after and apologized to him. I felt awful for him.
And I’m assuming that regardless of what happened, I’m going to get a few boos for that. Hey, that’s just fans being fans and they have the right to do it. I think it’s awesome.
FP: What memories stick out from the first year of your pro career spent in Winnipeg?
Doan: So many. Darryl and Darrin Shannon, they were amazing. They took such good care of me. Eddie Olczyk, he was phenomenal. I remember he got so hot halfway through that year scoring goals. I remember Randy Gilhen retiring my first year. And Kris King was our captain. And all those young guys I played with. I was just so happy to have an opportunity to play in the NHL and I’ll never forget the lap we did after that last game against Detroit.
I came back to the dressing room and had no elbow pad on one arm, no gloves, because as we were high-fiving fans, they were ripping things off of you. I remember thinking, just 19 at the time, that when I saw all those people upset and crying because the team was leaving, I appreciated that because I was an Oilers fans when I was young. Now, as I see my boys that are die-hard Coyotes fans, if you were to tell them something so upsetting, they’d be crushed. They love the team. I felt bad for the moment, but I’m sure glad it’s all worked out and the team’s back and people are happy about it.
FP: There’s another link to that old Jets team still active, still working with you. Are you still in equipment manager Stan Wilson’s good books?
Doan: Stan is my best friend. I‘ve spent more time together with him probably than anyone other than my wife and kids. And my wife probably argues that I’ve spent more time with Stan. There are people in your life that you admire and you want to be more like. He’s the type of person I want to be more like. You know, I read my Bible and there’s a proverb that applies here. If you see a man gifted in his work, he’ll not serve before obscure men but he’ll serve before kings. Stan is unbelievably gifted in his work and I assume everyone will know who Stan is at some point, but he’s one of the most quality people I’ve ever met and I really admire him.
FP: Over 20 years in the NHL, there have to be some opponents you didn’t admire, or like very much. Care to share?
Doan: Literally, pretty much every guy you’d say that about, it’s someone I’d probably want on my team. Matty Norstrom in L.A., I couldn’t stand playing against him because he was always so in the way and physical, big and strong. Always. Then I got to meet him a couple of times and he was the type of guy I’d call a friend. Also Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper from Detroit, two guys that really drove me crazy. I wanted to pretty much kill them, played in the playoffs against them, and they drove me bananas. And when I went to my first world championships, I got put on the same line with the two of them. It was like, ‘No, I really enjoyed hating them,’ (laughs) then I got to know them. They’re such good guys, but I couldn’t stand either of them before. That’s the best example.