Reunion still possible, but Doan, Coyotes are in limbo awaiting finalizing of team's sale.
By CRAIG MORGANFS Arizona
Terry Bross has a heard a lot of good rumors regarding his client, Shane Doan.
Doan has narrowed his list of suitors to five teams. Doan has narrowed his list to three teams. Doan wants to play in New York. Doan wants to play in Pittsburgh. Doan wants to play in Montreal (that was a particularly good one). Doan wants to play in Chicago. Doan wants to play in Vancouver.
Wait, that’s more than five teams, isn’t it?
“He’s going to play for the Pirates,” Bross said, chuckling.
Portland, Pittsburgh or Somalia? Doan’s agent isn’t sure. Most of the time, he just ignores what’s being said anyway.
“Unless you hear it from the horse’s mouth — Shane or me — don’t believe it,” Bross said.
But there is one rumor Bross would like to address head-on: the one that insists Doan no longer is interested in returning to the
Coyotes and the only franchise for which he has ever played.
“Not true,” Bross said. “Absolutely not true.”
If the fact that Doan is still on the market in mid-August — while every other big-name free agent has signed — doesn’t prove it you, Coyotes general manager Don Maloney offered more assurance by noting that he is still talking with Bross.
“We’re very fortunate that Shane is patient,” Maloney said. “Obviously, Shane wants to stay, and we need to work out a contract that works for both of us.”
It’s also worth noting that waiting doesn’t hurt Doan at this point unless he’s worried about uprooting his kids in the middle of the school year (they could always remain in Phoenix for one season). In fact, with all the big-name free agents off the market, waiting might actually help inflate Doan’s value.
“Everybody’s talking about deadlines, but if he doesn’t sign quickly, he’ll still be able to pick and choose,” Maloney said. “No team is saying, 'If you don’t sign by this date we’ll go in another direction,' because there is no other direction for them to go. Nobody else is out there.
“The same teams that were inquiring on July 1 will be there on Sept. 1. It’s a great position to be in — to be able to control the marketplace — but Shane has something we want and we have something he wants, so we have to find a way to make it work once the sale goes through.”
So what’s the holdup? Same as it has been. Greg Jamison has yet to complete a deal to buy the team.
With one Glendale-citizen-generated roadblock out of the way (challenging the arena lease agreement) and another in appeals court after a challenge to a local sales tax failed — and with Jamison reportedly in possession of the necessary funds to buy the team — there was hope that that this 3-plus-year-old life of limbo would finally come to an end.
But it hasn’t happened yet for reasons the league and Jamison will not detail. Maybe it’s the league’s inflated asking price. Maybe it’s smaller legal details that always drag these processes out. It’s all speculation, but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly did discount one possibility.
When asked how the league’s current labor impasse and soon-to-expire collective bargaining agreement impacted the Coyotes’ sale, Daly said succinctly: “Not at all.”
So it’s something else, and that makes sense. You knew something would delay the Coyotes’ plans. When it comes to off-ice travails, the local NHL franchise makes Murphy’s Law look like scientific law.
As always, all parties remain publicly optimistic that the deal will happen. And Maloney hopes it happens soon. The Coyotes, with 22 players signed, are still about $9.3 million below the temporary salary floor. They are required to spend more.
Some of that money could be used to re-sign Doan. Some of it could be used to sign goalie Mike Smith to a contract extension since he becomes a free agent after next season, but Maloney said Friday that the club also remains committed to adding offensive depth and/or firepower through trades.
The club may even have more money to spend if and when Jamison buys the club. He and Maloney have discussed expanding the budget.
“I’ve said this before, but I think our defense and our goaltending is really strong, and I’m not only talking about NHL players but what we have coming up in our system,” Maloney said. “Up front is where we have to find a way to acquire more depth or more quality. It would require using some of those assets.”
But until the sale is complete and Doan is signed, everything remains on hold. It’s a depressing reality for Maloney, but at least it’s familiar.