Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes is a throwback of sorts. He’s a big rugged man that can bang with the bruisers, but he can also skate and score with skill guys. With 33 career fights in the NHL and a penchant for physicality, it’s not surprising to see Doan take a strong stance against downgrading the game’s level of contact. Not that anyone’s arguing to eliminate body checking from the NHL, but when it comes to the great head shot debate – Doan believes incidental contact to the head will happen and if you don’t like it then perhaps you should find another career.

Doan spoke openly about the game’s physical nature during the NHL’s player media tour on Friday. The 15-year veteran stated his case against the notion of zero tolerance of head shots, via Yahoo! Sports:

“If you want to be safe, then don’t play.

Realistically, if you don’t want to get hit and you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t play. If you go out on the ice, you’re going to get hit. If you want to play shinny, then go play shinny. It’s not the same.

And that’s not trying to be cavalier or trying to be light about the subject, because nobody wants anybody to get hurt. But the game isn’t supposed to be safe. It’s supposed to be an intense, emotional game.”

We’re pretty sure Doan’s not some crusty old misanthrope, but his comments certainly fall in line with the old ‘you never played the game’ guard that fully accept contact to the head as just another ‘part of the game’. His stance on the effort to eliminate hits to the head is in stark contrast to the sentiments coming from a couple of the game’s brightest young stars in Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos.

Could it just be a generational thing? Perhaps. Doan spoke about an incident from the 2009-10 season when James Wisniewski caught him with some ‘unintentional’ contact to the head:

On Oct. 31, Doan took a hit from the Ducks’ James Wisniewski(notes). The way Doan describes it, he tried to pull the puck by Wisniewski on the rush and was about to beat him. Wisniewski stuck up his right arm instinctively and caught him on the jaw. (Doan struggled to get to his feet but stayed in the game. He would have had to be examined more thoroughly for a concussion after stricter return-to-play protocol was introduced later in the season.)

“He gets suspended two games for that, and so it’s trying to teach us, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Doan said. “But at the same time, it’s hard not to just react, because we don’t want to get scored on. You don’t want to get beat.”

So is there any room for justice in Shane Doan’s world where the occasional contact to the head is considered a part of the game? Of course there is… “We ended up fighting, and we dealt with it”.


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