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Shane Doan, last of the Jets 1.0, could make his final visit Tuesday

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/1/2016 (1738 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Despite all the new problems they have to worry about, Winnipeggers have shown more than a passing affection for anything and everything Jets 1.0.

So it may be with a dash of melancholy that Tuesday night comes along at the MTS Centre as potentially the final chance to see the last still-skating link to that sometimes painful yet cherished yesteryear.

Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period during an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.

RICK SCUTERI / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arizona Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period during an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.

The Arizona Coyotes visit the Jets that evening and Coyotes captain Shane Doan, the 39-year-old who debuted in the league as a 18-year-old rookie in Winnipeg, will play here for a sixth time in the NHL’s "new" era.

Since it’s the final scheduled 2015-16 visit for the Coyotes and a playoff matchup between Winnipeg and Arizona seems beyond far-fetched, and Doan, in the final year of his current contract, hasn’t decided if he’ll play beyond this season, it’s possible this will be the last hurrah for original Jets.

If you’re mushy about Maroons Road and love to reminisce, relive and rehash, don’t miss it.

"I haven’t decided but I’ve thought about it," Doan said earlier this week via phone, asked about potential retirement. He turns 40 in October. "My wife and my kids and I have talked about making this decision at the end of the year. If I’m still capable of contributing, that would be one of the questions I’d ask. It still comes down to my decision, but I want it to be a family decision.

"I’m enjoying playing right now and that’s a big part of it."

There is sufficient waffling on the matter because, in his 20st NHL season playing for the same organization, Doan has enjoyed a rejuvenation among some promising young players. He’s had 16 goals, 25 points and a lot of fun so far as the Coyotes threaten for a playoff spot.

"I’m feeling like I can contribute," he said. "It’s a circular kind of thing, that the more you can contribute, the better you feel and the better you feel, the more you can contribute. So you ride that as long as you can.

"As a team, I think we were picked by pretty much everybody to finish last. There really isn’t a lot of pressure on us and we’re having a good time."

The party of this season has included another important personal milestone.

On New Year’s Eve at home against the new Jets, the old Jet fired his 380th career goal, surpassing Dale Hawerchuk as the franchise’s top goal-scorer.

Another record, Hawerchuk’s franchise mark of 929 points in a Jets uniform, is only six points away as of today.

"I ran into Dave Ellett the other day and we were talking and laughing about how Dale did it in 700 games and it’s taken me more than 1,400 games," Doan said. "So I’m well aware of how good Dale was and at the same time I’m very honoured to have an opportunity to do something like this.

"There are only 30 teams, so it’s special to me, but I’m well aware I’m not Dale. What a player he was and his stats, they’re fun to look at, to see 130 points in one year. Such an incredible player."

Doan was equally mindful of his past in a recent article he wrote for The Players Tribune website.

In it, he led with a story from early in his rookie year when, having rolled his eyes at the end of a scolding from then-Jets coach Terry Simpson, veteran defenceman Dave Manson quietly got in his face about the disrespect he showed.

"Manson, he didn’t do that in a demonstrative way," said Doan, who wrote about the lesson learned. "It was subtle enough that a lot of people didn’t know. I knew, very clearly. But he wasn’t looking for attention; he did it because it’s the right thing to do."

Those who would say Doan’s humility isn’t genuine don’t know him, or have a clear understanding of his passionate participation in a passionate game.

When rumours were at a fevered pitch in the two years prior to the Atlanta Thrashers relocation to Winnipeg, the financially troubled Coyotes were on everyone’s radar.

At one point, Doan spoke up about wanting to stay in the desert — it was a very personal and family stance — but many Winnipeggers simply took it as a slight to their town.

"No, I appreciate how passionate the fans are," Doan said. "As a player, you want your fans to be emotionally invested in the game as much as you are. The Winnipeg fans have kind of taken it to another level, the way they usually boo the captain or the best player of the other team.

"I remember getting an unbelievable ovation in our first game there (Dec. 1, 2011, saluting an original Jet’s return) and then they booed me after, which I thought was awesome.

"And I think that’s so cool because it shows they care and they also know what’s going on."

Snippets of controversy have surfaced here and there in Doan’s productive career.

It’s uncertain what actually went on in a game in Montreal in late 2005, when Doan was assessed a game-ending gross misconduct for alleged vulgarities and slurs uttered at or about the four francophone officials who worked the testy game, won by the Habs.

One linesman reported what he thought he heard. Doan denies the allegation to this day but the matter didn’t die there because meddling politicians Denis Coderre and Jack Layton, both MPs, questioned his participation for Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

Doan sued Coderre for defamation, Coderre counter-sued, and the matter was finally settled out of court more than four years later.

"I still can’t believe how I ended up getting involved in that but once you’re in, it’s hard to get out," Doan said. "The thing I realized was that politics are a totally different game.

"It was so disappointing but, not to get on a soapbox, but you’d hope your leaders and people that run your country care more about what’s right than playing politics.

"I know what happened, who I am. I got a gross misconduct for something I didn’t do or say and... that turned into four years of just ridiculousness."

Part of the passionate Doan is that he’s a Christian, and he’s open about it.

And he’s well aware that the overlap of his play and his faith have been the subject of criticism and taunts from rivals and fans.

"Yeah, people make comments and they’re going to make comments over anything to try to get you rattled," Doan said. "Realistically, once you’re playing the game, it’s pretty intense and I don’t really take anything too personal on the ice. I’ve probably had a few people annoyed at me on the ice and I hope they don’t take it personal either.

"It’s part of the game and I have no worries about standing up for what I believe and what I think. What people say isn’t going to affect me too much.

"My grandfather told me one time, when they stop booing you or yelling at you, it’s probably time to leave."

He’ll do that soon enough but, in contrast with today’s robotic, reluctant heroes, there’s still time left to appreciate an original Jet.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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