Another day, another player forced to the press box thanks to a hit from Shane Doan.
While that’s obviously hyperbole, there’s little doubt that Doan has forced his fair share of folks off the ice for a game or for a stretch of games with his physical play. The Phoenix Coyotes captain is noted as one of the more physical players in the game. But how close is his game to being labeled as “dirty”?
Let’s preface this by saying that there are few classier guys away from the ice than Doan. He’s been incredibly loyal, even through all of this Coyotes ownership nonsense. Most players would have bolted. But the player who just may be the most loved in the history of Phoenix-area sports has stuck around.
However, Doan doesn’t have the greatest reputation outside of the desert. And that’s for good reason. What Doan, with some subtlety, did to Shawn Horcoff on Wednesday night is another example of that. Doan throw his shoulder into the head of Horcoff with an open ice hit, knocking him out of the game. While it wasn’t an overwhelmingly awful hit, Horcoff never saw him coming and left the game.
Doan was suspended three games last season for an elbow to the head of Jamie Benn and nearly caught another one for a nasty hit on Trevor Lewis in the Western Conference Finals last season. There was also the matter of a $2,500 fine for boarding on Mark Giordano. Even before last year, Doan had a history, most notably the suspension he received for a hit on Dan Sexton in 2010.
The question is whether or not we could throw Doan in a category with some of the dirtier players in the league. Playing on the edge is one thing. But hits that regularly result in suspensions/fines/injuries are another thing entirely. Is Doan hitting every time with an intent to injure? Probably not.
But there’s no doubt that Doan’s play is somewhat questionable. It’s difficult to classify him as a dirty player, given how much of a class act he’s been off the ice throughout his career. But he’s certainly not clean. Of course, at the same time he’s probably the type of guy that 29 other teams will take on their club any day of the week.
It’s a difficult question to answer. But when you take his history into consideration, it’s hard not to classify him as a dirty player. Multiple fines and suspensions, thanks to his elbows’ tendency to wander up around opposing players’ heads, has probably earned him that label.