TEMPE – Josh Doan was born to play for the Arizona Coyotes.
That destiny is now closer to reality after Doan decided to forgo his junior year at Arizona State to play professional hockey and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes Thursday.
The 21-year-old forward joins the same organization that his father, Shane Doan, spent his entire professional career in, beginning in 1995 when the franchise – then located in Winnipeg – drafted him. Shane Doan served as captain of the Coyotes for the last 13 of his 21 seasons in the NHL.
Josh reported to Tucson and made his debut Friday with the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ American Hockey League affiliate.
“It’s definitely something special, obviously. I’ve been repping this logo since I was zero,” Josh said. “So it feels pretty normal at this point. But it’s super exciting to be officially kind of a part of it.”
As Shane tallied 402 goals, 570 assists and 972 points during a 21-year career, 20 in Phoenix, Josh naturally looked up to his father growing up and fell in love with the game of hockey through his father’s example and the unique opportunity to hang around an NHL locker room and at practices and games
“He loved sports,” Shane Doan said. “I don’t care what sport it was. So for him to come watch a hockey game or come to one of my practices, he loved it. Anything that involves score and competition, he was in right from the beginning. Every little boy looks up to their dad, so I think there was an element of that.
“Players like Keith Yandle, Derek Morris and Mike Smith, they just brought him in and really made him feel like he was a part of the group. So he feels like he has been in the locker room his whole life. He’s quiet. He was not a really loud kid. He would like to sit and just watch us.”
For the majority of his youth career, Josh played in the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes program. Playing in a state not known for its hockey talent, he embraced and cherished every moment on the ice.
“That was one of the best times in my hockey playing days is playing for the Jr. Coyotes,” Josh Doan said. “I made a lot of friends growing up playing hockey in Arizona. There’s the same 15 kids that are your teammates for your whole life, so I got the opportunity to play with them and grow up with them as kids. We were fortunate enough to make a couple of runs at nationals and play some high-level games and obviously get scouted to move forward into our hockey careers.”
In 2019, Josh left Arizona and played two seasons with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. During his time with the Steel, the younger Doan scored 36 goals with 49 assists and 84 points. His impressive play caught the eye of the Coyotes, who selected Josh with the 37th pick in the 2021 NHL draft.
Josh opted to take the collegiate route and returned home to play for ASU, where he made a major impact on the ASU hockey program in two years and became a team captain as a sophomore. His college career spanned 74 games and ended with a total of 28 goals, 47 assists and 75 points.
The memories created at ASU made Josh’s decision to turn pro even more difficult.
“I’ve been debating it and talking back and forth with my family about it,” he said. “Obviously, the decision was to turn pro. It was hard because of how much I loved ASU and the coaching staff and the players there. But Tuesday night, my dad and I talked for about two hours, just the two of us. And it was something that we came to the conclusion that was what was best for me. And I think it was the right decision, and we’re going to stick with it.”
Josh is expected to spend the rest of the season with the Roadrunners. Letting players develop in the minor leagues before taking the big jump of playing in the NHL has been a successful strategy for prospects under Coyotes General Manager Bill Armstrong.
“For us, you know, to get him at this point, it’s huge,” Armstrong said. “With the St. Louis Blues, we had Colton Parayko come in, and we convinced him to go down to the minors and work on his game. It was a huge step that he took the following year. He came right in and played for us after that.
“Anytime you can take one of your players and put them in the American League right away, get them going, it really benefits the player. So this is going to be a huge growth step for him, and I believe it’s going to pay dividends in the end. We’re really excited to get them in and get them signed.”
Josh Doan is no ordinary prospect. He comes into the organization with expectations to perform at a high level simply because of his last name. While there is pressure that comes from wearing a Coyotes jersey with that name on it, the younger Doan is ready to chart his own course and represent the growth of the sport in the state where his father is now a household name.
“He’s Arizona born, Arizona bred and he’s an Arizona hockey player, and that’s something that I think a player like Shane had in mind that he would help develop players when he was done,” Armstrong said. “So that’s a great sign for the state of hockey in Arizona.”