The Coyotes’ chances of re-signing free agent Shane Doan are dwindling.
“I would say if we don’t have an answer by the 16th (of July) it may be time to get serious about listening to other teams’ offers,” Doan’s agent, Terry Bross said Tuesday.
The date coincides with the date Glendale residents Joe Cobb and Ken Jones intend to turn in a petition in hopes of getting a referendum on the November ballot regarding Glendale’s lease agreement with former San Jose Sharks CEO and prospective Phoenix Coyotes owner Greg Jamison.
Glendale officials had set a July 9 deadline for the petition, which Cobb and Jones did not meet, arguing that they should have had 30 days from the date paperwork was made available. That disagreement will likely lead to legal wrangling once the group turns in the petition. That could spell doom for the Coyotes’ efforts to keep the only player who has been with the club since it arrived in the Valley in 1996.
“If it’s going to turn into legal wrangling, then I would say it might be time to move on,” Bross said.
If it wasn’t already crystal clear, it should be now that Doan’s first, second and third preferences are to remain in Phoenix. He and his family love the Valley and, for a change, that is not your typical athlete hyperbole.
But just as important is Doan’s sense of loyalty and commitment to the franchise.
“Unlike the majority of athletes, he takes responsibility for this organization,” Bross said. “Don’t think it’s lost on him that it’s going to have an impact in more ways than on the ice if he leaves. That’s why we’re dragging our feet on this.”
Doan and Bross can only drag so long. There’s the practical reality of needing to uproot the family and find a new home and new schools for the kids before training camp begins in September. Then there are the needs of other clubs to consider. Bross said he has about 16 teams that want to make an offer — or at least want to know if they should make an offer. Those teams won’t wait much longer before moving on because, as Edmonton assistant general manager Rick Olczyk put it: “The music’s going to stop, and teams will be left without a chair.”
Bross is aware of that pressure.
“They would like to have had it done last week, but I’m not going to impose a deadline on Shane,” Bross said. “It’s his market. He’s the free agent. If they’re serious suitors and want his services for all the right reasons, they’ll respect that he has unfinished business at home.”
Bross did say that Doan will not accept a one-year offer, but that is no great revelation. Doan figured to get multiyear offers in free agency anyway, and Coyotes GM Don Maloney has said all along that the club is prepared to offer Doan a multiyear deal.
Doan was due to meet with Jamison on Tuesday to get an update, but there won’t be anything definitive because of the ongoing petition efforts.
“We thought yesterday we would have closure,” Bross said. “Now it’s hurry-up-and-wait again.”
The irony in Cobb and Jones’ petition effort is that stalling this process may ultimately cost the City of Glendale even more money — and, in turn, cost its citizens.
Without Doan, the Coyotes will be an entirely different team. They’ll lose their rudder on the ice and, perhaps more importantly, in the locker room, where Doan’s calming and comedic presence sets the tone for this club.
The Coyotes struggled offensively last season and need to make a trade following the loss of free agent Ray Whitney. But if Doan leaves, they will also need leadership. Their most tradable roster asset, defenseman Keith Yandle, is an assistant captain and a locker-room presence. Could the Coyotes afford to deal that presence for an offensive upgrade if Doan were already gone?
Coach Dave Tippett and Maloney will smile when they read media predictions that this club will struggle to make the playoffs in the wake of those departures. They’ve heard that before — every season since they arrived, in fact. But this is different.
When Phoenix lost Zbynek Michalek and Matthew Lombardi in free agency, they found quick replacements. When they lost goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, they eliminated a divisive locker-room presence and a playoff underachiever.
If they lose Doan, they’ll lose a guy whose stats actually get better in the postseason. A guy who leads by example on the ice and leads with a big heart and practical jokes off of it. A guy who has been the face and captain of this franchise ever since it moved to Glendale.
Losing Doan alters the complexion of this team in a way that will take seasons to remedy. If the Coyotes aren’t a playoff team next season, they won’t make as much money. Neither will surrounding businesses. Neither will the city of Glendale.
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” Bross said of Cobb and Jones. “They don’t want to be taxed and they want things to be done transparently. But are they better off if Shane leaves? Are they better off not having a team?”