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By Michael Rushton, NHL Contributor - Archive - Email
Doan's elbow jolts Coyotes' playoff chances
Shane Doan was suspended for his hit on the Stars' Jamie Benn on Tuesday.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Shane Doan wears the "C" for the Phoenix Coyotes, but his recent actions leave his club without its leader for the stretch run.

During a highly competitive game with Dallas on Tuesday, Doan delivered an elbow to the head of the Stars' Jamie Benn, touching off a melee that saw three fights break out. Doan was given five minutes for fighting as well as a two-minute elbow minor, but remained in the game.

While Phoenix did rally late to force overtime -- with Doan assisting on a pair of third-period goals -- the Coyotes dropped a 4-3 decision in a shootout to fall a point behind the Stars for first place in the Pacific Division. With 84 on the season, Phoenix is just outside the playoff picture with eight games to play.

However, the next three will be played without Doan, who was suspended on Wednesday for his hit on Benn. Cue Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!"

"O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:"

The Coyotes' trip is nearly done and it could end shorter than anticipated thanks to the loss of Doan. He'll miss games against the Colorado Avalanche, which is seventh in the Western Conference; the playoff-hopeful San Jose Sharks; and the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues. Those are six big points that will be harder to earn without the captain after NHL senior vice president of player safety Brenden Shanahan determined that Doan's elbow, while not intentional, was "reckless, and made him responsible for the dangerous head contact that resulted."

Doan 2011-12 season highlights
 11 multi-point games
 3 goals, 4 assists over season-opening four-game point streak
 Scored 300th career goal on Oct. 25
 Recorded first career hat trick on Jan. 7
 Netted 39th career two-goal game on Jan. 16

For a team that has battled injury this season, it's just another setback for the Coyotes.

"Hockey the hard way, that's what it is. Adversity is nothing new for this group and we'll deal with it as a group," Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said on Wednesday.

Tippett, in fact, is lucky the ban wasn't longer. Doan was classified as a repeat offender having already been suspended once before in October 2010 and was just fined $2,500 on March 16 for a boarding call the previous night versus the Calgary Flames.

With the tight competition in the West, emotions are sure to run high over the final weeks of the season. It's up to leaders like Doan to harness that adrenaline and not let it get the best of them. Doan failed at that on Tuesday, but Tippett isn't worried about his club's emotions on the ice.

"Mistakes happen in the game; that's just part of the game," the coach said. "If our competitive level is where it should be and we can make good decisions -- we have a saying that every play counts. When we make a bad play, we have to counter that with a good play."

For his part, Doan said all the right things in a release on Wednesday, accepting the NHL's decision and adding he was thankful that Benn was not hurt on the play. He also offered an apology to the league, his teammates and fans, noting he will miss three games while his team fights for a playoff spot.

With 21 goals and 47 points on the season, the Coyotes will not only miss Doan on the ice, but also in the locker room. A 16-year veteran, Doan is one of the main keys to what Tippett called his club's "playoff mindset."

All three games Doan will miss are against teams either in the playoffs or right on the verge of a spot. If Phoenix can keep its head above water without Doan, it would have its captain back for the final four games, including three against teams out of the postseason race.

"My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;"

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