April 05, 2017

Shane Doan kept shaking his head and using the F-word.

''Really, really frustrating,'' he said. ''It's really frustrating.''

Doan had just come off the ice after an hour-long workout to stay in shape. The Arizona Coyotes' captain has now missed eight of the past 10 games with a lower-body injury, an absence made worse by the potential end of his NHL career approaching.

The 40-year-old is mulling retirement after 20 seasons and doesn't want to limp to the finish line.

''As a player you're always aware of the future and thinking about it,'' Doan said late last month in Washington. ''So it's one of those things that when you're not playing you definitely are thinking, `I want to play.' So it probably makes it even more of a thought.''

Arizona has two games left this season, at home against Vancouver on Thursday and Minnesota on Saturday, which could afford Doan the chance to say goodbye to the fans he has played in front of for many years - if he chooses to hang up his skates. Beginning with the original Winnipeg Jets, Doan has played his entire 1,538-game career with the same franchise and thought enough of that distinction that he didn't ask for a trade to a contender to chase a Stanley Cup this spring.

''You want that chance to win the Stanley Cup,'' Doan said. ''You want an opportunity to play in it and to not be given the opportunity is tough, but at the same time the honor of being able to play with the same organization my whole career is something that I don't take lightly.''

Doan has been the face of the Coyotes and helped inspire Arizona native and rookie of the year front-runner Auston Matthews to play hockey. The past few years he has taken pride in mentoring the team's next generation of stars like Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Lawson Crouse.

''On the ice he's a real dedicated leader,'' coach Dave Tippett said. ''But off the ice he's a real mentor for our young players, too. He's a big piece of what we're trying to do here, just how he is as a player and a person and the kind of aura around him really helps our young players.''

Doan considers that part of his value late in a career that has included 971 points and nine playoff appearances, but none since 2012 when the Coyotes reached the Western Conference final. Unless he plays next season elsewhere or Arizona is well ahead of its development curve, Doan will likely retire without winning the Cup.

And he's at peace with that.

''I think you get a little bit more comfortable in the fact that as a person and as a player I know who the guys that are real winners are and not all of them are guys that have won Stanley Cups,'' Doan said. ''There are some great players that didn't, some guys that no one even knows about that are unbelievable guys that are winners and they didn't win.''

Doan doesn't expect to make a decision until well after the season after talking to management and family. Not all of his teammates are convinced he's ready to retire.

''You never know,'' defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said last month. ''I feel like he's still got some hockey left in him.''

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Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno .

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