GLENDALE – Coyotes captain Shane Doan started the 2013-14 season by notching 23 points in the team’s first 27 games. Off-season sports hernia surgery served Doan, a notorious slow starter, quite well over the first two months of his 18th NHL season.
Of those 23 points, 12 were goals and that tied his second-best goal total through that many games to start a season.
Indeed, the future looked bright for Doan and the team, which boasted a 16-7-4 record after those 27 games.
But then, in early December, Doan’s season came to a screeching and mysterious halt as he was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The illness, a tick-borne bacterial disease that affects the cells in the lining of blood vessels, cost Doan 12 games and derailed his momentum for a highly-productive season. The Coyotes, meanwhile, won only four of 12 games without him.
"It's such a freak thing, and you'd never expect to go through something like that," Doan said this week, just before he and his teammates departed Jobing.com Arena for the off-season.
Doan finished the season with 47 points, fourth most on the team despite missing a month of games. And he tallied 23 goals - second only to Antoine Vermette’s 24 - to capture the 12th 20-plus goal season of his career.
But Doan was disappointed in his overall performance, especially after he returned to the lineup on Jan. 4, and he is eager to turn the page and focus on next season.
"Once you're back and playing, you're back and playing," Doan said after being asked if the illness affected him following his return. "From the beginning of December until March, I really was useless. It's disappointing."
He added, "This summer, unfortunately, is going to be really, really long so I’ll have a lot of time to get back (to full health). I expect to feel great (next season)."
Like his teammates, coaches and fans, Doan was disappointed in the team’s non-playoff season. Asked by a reporter if he thinks roster changes need to be made in the off-season, Doan smiled and said: "I’m a player. That’s my job… If they change stuff, they change stuff, but it won’t be because I think they should. I think we’ve got a great group of players that have the opportunity to be better than what we (showed) at the end and where we finished. Hopefully, we get another chance."
The 2013-14 season wasn't all about illness for Doan. He reached a few noteworthy milestones along the way, in typical humble fashion.
On Oct. 18, Doan notched his 818th point to move past Thomas Steen and into second place on the franchise's all-time points list. On Jan. 28, he recorded the 500th assist of his NHL career. Then, on March 13 in Boston, he quietly became just the 54th NHL player to play 1,300 games.
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