Wholesale Arizona Coyotes Jersey

Retiring star grateful for appreciation, respect during 20 seasons in Arizona.

Shane Doan announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday in a letter to the Arizona Republic. At the end were five sentences that started with “thank you.” At the heart of it was this:

“[The fans] stuck by me throughout my career and the ups and downs of the Coyotes,” Doan wrote. “There are a lot of players with more skill than me and a lot more ability than me that didn’t ever get the type of appreciation that I got and the type of respect that the fans gave me, and I’m so grateful for that.”

Yes, the fans stuck by Doan and the Coyotes. But they did it while he stuck by them and because of the type of person and player he was. It isn’t all about skill. It isn’t all about ability. It’s about loyalty and character and class too. That is what people appreciated and respected most, and that will be Doan’s legacy.

Doan, a native of Halkirk, Alberta, was selected by the original Winnipeg Jets in the first round (No. 7) of the 1995 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 7, 1995, three days before his 19th birthday, then moved with the franchise to Phoenix the following year. He spent the next 20 seasons with the Phoenix (later Arizona) Coyotes, including the last 13 as captain.

He wasn’t the best player in the NHL. He wasn’t perfect either, making his share of mistakes. But he was human, humble, tough and committed.

Ups and downs? That doesn’t begin to describe the Coyotes’ saga, from packed houses and Stanley Cup Playoff runs to empty seats, losing seasons, a bankruptcy, arena issues and ownership changes.

At times, Doan grew frustrated with others. At times, he disagreed with the team’s direction. At times, he could have gone elsewhere.

That was true at the end as well. The Coyotes told Doan that they would not offer him another contract, and he reportedly drew interest from other teams. Had he signed elsewhere, no one could have blamed him. He never got the chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final, let alone hoist the Cup over his head.

But through it all he stayed.

He stayed to play 1,540 games and score 402 goals for the same franchise. He stayed to represent the Coyotes in the NHL All-Star Game twice. He stayed in a desert where he believed hockey could thrive despite the doubts of so many others.

Now he will stay in what has become his home at age 40 with his wife, Andrea, and their four children.

“I have peace,” he wrote in the Republic.

Once, in a moment of gallows humor, he compared the Coyotes’ plight to a scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” A man walks through a village banging a cowbell, telling the living to bring out their dead. Another man, about to be thrown on a cart carrying corpses, insists he’s not only alive, he’s getting better. He’s told he isn’t and will be dead soon.

“It’s kind of like that,” Doan said after reciting a couple lines in an English accent.

In the movie, the man is clubbed in the head and thrown onto the cart. In reality, Doan and the Coyotes kept fighting. Doan made the comparison in January 2012, when he was in the last year of his contract, the team’s ownership situation was uncertain and people were wondering if he would waive his no-move clause before the NHL Trade Deadline. He didn’t.

“I feel my job is for us to win here,” Doan said. “You put a lot of work in to try to get something to somewhere, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

A few months later, the Coyotes made the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings. In the crowd amid the “WhiteOut” was an Arizona kid named Auston Matthews, who had fallen in love with hockey because of the Coyotes and had a poster of Doan on his bedroom wall.

Matthews grew up to skate with Doan in the summer, become the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft and win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. When the Maple Leafs visited the Coyotes on Dec. 23, Matthews took the opening faceoff of his first NHL game in his hometown against Doan, and Doan scored his 400th goal in his 1,500th game.

“He was my idol,” Matthews told NHL.com on June 20, after the Coyotes announced Doan would not return. “Then getting to know him, he’s such an unbelievable person. As good as he is on the ice, the person he is off the ice really exemplifies everything about him.

“I’m pretty sad to see it. But he gives it his all, and he’s been with that organization for 21 years, and he’s made a big impact on and off the ice.”

Thank you, Shane.

Wholesale Washington Capitals Jersey

A slimmer, trimmer-looking Alex Ovechkin is back on the ice for summer workouts more than two weeks before the start of training camp.

The Russian superstar skated in an informal practice with Washington Capitals teammates on Tuesday and looked lighter than his playing weight of 239 pounds last season. If that’s indeed the case, Ovechkin took to heart the challenge from general manager Brian MacLellan to train differently and add more speed to his game as he’s about to turn 32.

A team spokesman said Ovechkin would not speak to reporters until the first day of training camp in September. But his teammates certainly notice a change in Ovechkin’s physique.

“You can see he lost some weight,” center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “Every year you’re trying to be better. You change something in the summer. Ovi’s like other guys, too — he wants to change something, right? It’s always nice to see when your teammates get better. They change. They try something new.”

Ovechkin is already trying something new by getting to the D.C. area in late August, which is earlier than usual for captain and 13-year pro. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and fellow Russian Dmitry Orlov all flew back together, joining goaltender Philipp Grubauer and others.

The early arrivals are no coincidence after the Capitals ended the past season with a loss again in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

“After we lost to Pittsburgh, a lot of negative things [were said] about our team, about him,” Orlov said. “Everybody said, ‘The Caps cannot do anything, blah, blah, blah.’ So everybody understands and everybody wants to show we can do everything. … He wants to be where he’s always been, one of the superstars in the league and he wants to work hard and show everybody who he is.”

Ovechkin leads all players with 558 goals since entering the NHL in 2005-06, 176 more than Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. While Crosby led the league with 44 goals, Ovechkin’s 33 goals last year were his fewest in a non-lockout season since 2010-11 as he saw the lowest ice time of his career.

By the end of the Pittsburgh series, coach Barry Trotz had moved him down to the third line, and Ovechkin finished the playoffs with five goals and three assists in 13 games as he battled knee and hamstring injuries.

Trotz said after the Capitals were eliminated that Ovechkin’s “still got game.” MacLellan said Ovechkin had to adjust his game to stay relevant as he gets older.

“He’s going to have to think of ways he can evolve into a player that still has a major impact on the game,” MacLellan said after last season. “The game’s getting faster. He’s going to have to train in a different way — a more speed way instead of a power way.”

Ovechkin appears to have done that, which sends a message to teammates after an offseason of change. The Capitals lost defensemen Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk and right winger Justin Williams in free agency, and traded away forward Marcus Johansson in a salary-cap crunch.

“It’s always good when you see the guys who are 30 or more years — they know they have to practice hard,” said Kuznetsov, who signed a $62.4 million, eight-year contract that makes him the second-highest-paid player on the team behind Ovechkin. “For me, when you get a couple more kilograms, it’s a couple practices. But for older guys that takes like five, six days. That’s tough. That’s why the older guys have to work more and more and more.”

Jetlag and a lack of sleep aside, Kuznetsov and Orlov think Ovechkin did work more and that it shows.

“He’s going to be good,” Orlov said. “He’s a professional, and he worked hard this summer so he can prepare for the season and I think he’s going to be good.”

Wholesale New York Rangers Jersey

Ceremony to be held before Feb. 25 game against Red Wings at Madison Square Garden.

Hall of Fame center Jean Ratelle will have his No. 19 retired by the New York Rangers in a ceremony before their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 25.

Ratelle had 817 points (336 goals, 481 assists) in 862 games during16 seasons with the Rangers. He centered New York’s “GAG Line” with Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert; they finished third, fourth and fifth in the NHL in scoring during the 1971-72 season. Ratelle’s 109 points (46 goals, 63 assists) in 63 games before he missed the final 15 regular-season games with a broken ankle were the most in a single season in Rangers history until Jaromir Jagr had 123 points (54 goals, 69 assists) in 2005-06.

Ratelle also had six 30-goal seasons, more than any player in Rangers history. He scored the final goal at the old Madison Square Garden in a 3-3 tie with the Red Wings on Feb. 11, 1968. Seven days later, he took the first faceoff for the Rangers at the current Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Jean Ratelle is truly one of the greatest players to have ever played for the New York Rangers,” Rangers president Glen Sather said Monday. “Few players have demonstrated the class, dignity, and gracefulness that Jean possessed throughout his career, both on and off the ice. I had the good fortune to call Jean a teammate with the Rangers, I am proud to still call Jean a friend, and I am honored to announce that he will take his rightful place in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

Ratelle finished his NHL career in 1980 with 1,267 points (491 goals, 776 assists) in 1,280 games with the Rangers and Boston Bruins, who acquired him in a trade on Nov. 7, 1975. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 and named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017. His No. 19 will join goaltenders Ed Giacomin (1) and Mike Richter (35), defensemen Brian Leetch (2) and Harry Howell (3), and forwards Gilbert (7), Adam Graves (9), Andy Bathgate (9) and Mark Messier (11) in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.

Wholesale Tampa Bay Lightning Jersey

Matthews, Marner, Nylander valuable keeper-league assets.

As part of NHL.com’s 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team’s landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com’s top 250. Today, we look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

FORWARDS

Auston Matthews, C — He led the NHL with 32 even-strength goals as a 19-year-old. He had stellar totals in power-play points (21) and shots on goal (279) to finish 29th in Yahoo after an average draft position of 109.6. He played often with fellow rookie forward William Nylander, but also spent significant time centering rookies Zach Hyman and Connor Brown. If Matthews skates with Nylander and veteran Patrick Marleau for a full season, his assist total could skyrocket and land him among the top five overall.

Mitchell Marner, C/RW — He had more line stability than Matthews, playing alongside forwards James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak at even strength and on the power play. Marner led all rookies in assists (42) and was tied for second in power-play points (21), finishing 67th in Yahoo after an ADP of 149.6. He’s on track to be an elite distributor for years to come, and his solid shot total (176 in 77 games) means he has greater potential as a goal scorer. He’s worth drafting in the third round of a standard league and among the top 15 in most keeper formats.

William Nylander, C/RW — Not to be outdone by Matthews and Marner, Nylander led all rookies in power-play points (26) and was second among first-year players in fantasy value (52nd in Yahoo). If he builds on his strong shot total (205 in 81 games) and plays more often with Matthews at even strength, he’ll have a chance to jump for 25-30 goals and 65-70 points. He’s worth reaching for among the top 50 overall.

James van Riemsdyk, LW — Benefiting from constant exposure to Marner at even strength and on the power play, van Riemsdyk had an NHL career-high 62 points with his second-highest single-season goal total (29). His high shot volume (238) helped him finish 47th in Yahoo after being underestimated in drafts (ADP: 125). He’s a fringe top-50 forward and top-75 overall player.

Nazem Kadri, C – He thrived on the Maple Leafs’ third line and spent time on each power-play unit, setting NHL career highs in goals (32) and points (61). Even if your league doesn’t count penalty minutes (95 last season; T-16th in NHL), Kadri was one of 12 players with at least 30 goals, 60 points, 15 power-play points (17) and 230 shots on goal (236). Take full advantage if Kadri is underestimated again.

Patrick Marleau, C/LW — He joins the Maple Leafs after spending his first 19 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks, and could be rejuvenated by the Maple Leafs’ young forward group. Marleau, who will turn 38 on Sept. 15, scored 27 goals on 190 shots on goal last season, a shooting percentage (14.2 percent) not far above his NHL career average (13.4). Marleau will play on one of the Maple Leafs’ two strong power-play units, so he’ll have a chance to score 50 points for the first time since 2014-15 (57).

Tyler Bozak, C — The Maple Leafs’ second-line center had 55 points (18 goals, 37 assists) in 78 games, with 18 points on the power play. He was one of six Maple Leafs with at least 55 points and 15 power-play points. He only covered two of the six standard fantasy categories well (assists and power-play points), but remains a fringe top-200 asset because of his frequent exposure to two top-100 forwards.

DEFENSEMEN

Jake Gardiner, D – The Maple Leafs’ power play ranked second in the NHL (23.8 percent) last season, but its defensemen didn’t total nearly as many power-play points as the forwards. Gardiner, who led Maple Leafs defensemen with 2:32 per game on the power play (2:40 in Stanley Cup Playoffs), mostly played on a unit with Matthews, Nylander and Connor Brown, and had 13 power-play points. He also had a much better plus/minus (plus-24) than Nikita Zaitsev (minus-22) and Morgan Rielly (minus-20). Gardiner ranked 19th among fantasy defenseman (129th overall in Yahoo) last season, but could dip if the Maple Leafs regress at even strength; last season they were fifth in the League with 169 5-on-5 goals.

Nikita Zaitsev, D — He was among the rookie defenseman leaders in points (36, third) and power-play points (12, second), but sustained an upper-body injury in April and played in four of the Maple Leafs’ six postseason games. He didn’t finish anywhere near Gardiner in Yahoo (No. 363), but averaged 2:00 per game on the power play in the regular season, mostly on a unit with Marner, van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Kadri. He’s a potential late-round steal who has a higher power-play points ceiling.

Morgan Rielly, D — Likely because of Zaitsev’s injury, Rielly saw an uptick in power-play minutes in the postseason to 2:08 per game from 0:58 during the regular season. Rielly, 23, is younger than Zaitsev (25) and Gardiner (27), and excelled with a heavy playoff workload (26:53 per game; five points in six games). His fantasy breakout potential hinges on whether he gets more power-play usage in addition to a heavy defensive workload.

GOALTENDING

Frederik Andersen, G – He won half of his games (33 of 66) last season with a save percentage (.918) that matched his NHL career average. He got the Maple Leafs to the playoffs and set an NHL career high in shutouts (four), but must improve in overtime/shootout, where he had an NHL-high 14 losses, to join the elite at his position. Andersen is the clear starter and the Maple Leafs could bounce back in those situations, making him worth drafting among the top 15 goalies and top 75 overall.

Others to consider: Connor Brown (RW), Kasperi Kapanen (LW/RW), Zach Hyman (C/LW), Josh Leivo (LW/RW), Leo Komarov (C/LW/RW)

Wholesale New Jersey Devils Jersey

Stafford signs one-year contract with Devils.

Forward Drew Stafford signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

Stafford, 31, was an unrestricted free agent who had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 58 games with the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets last season. He had eight points in 18 games after he was traded to the Bruins on March 1.

Selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round (No. 13) of the 2004 NHL Draft, Stafford has 400 points (183 goals, 217 assists) in 725 regular-season games with the Bruins, Jets and Sabres.

Stafford adds depth at forward for the Devils, who will be without center Travis Zajac for the first four months of the season. Zajac had surgery on Aug. 17 to repair a torn left pectoral muscle.

Wholesale Colorado Avalanche Jersey

The Colorado Avalanche agreed to a two-year, entry-level deal with Alexander Kerfoot after the forward became a college free agent earlier this month.

Kerfoot was originally taken by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. He was with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League before playing for Harvard, where he spent the last four seasons.

This was the second college free agent the Avs have recently signed. The team also agreed to a two-year deal with forward Dominic Toninato.

Colorado was unable to sign former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher before the Aug. 15 deadline. The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. The Hobey Baker Award winner led the Pioneers to a national championship in April.

Wholesale Nashville Predators Jersey

Fans of the Nashville Predators should be happy over the next few years.

In today’s NHL, creating a consistently competitive team is the best path toward making a dynasty.

Although the common myth is that it’s hard to build a team capable of multiple championships in the salary-cap era, results prove otherwise.

Since the 2004-05 lockout, just three teams — the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings — have won eight of the 12 Stanley Cups awarded.

The Blackhawks and Penguins, specifically, have been able to put themselves in this position through signing the right core players long term to give their teams some level of consistency.

The Penguins, for example, have been able to keep Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang on common-sense deals while supplementing with fresh talent the past couple of years to create their current winning dynamic. The Blackhawks made sure to fit Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford in their salary structure while juggling complementary parts.

Both organizations have each won three Cups in the cap era.

Those teams are certain to compete for Stanley Cups in the near future, but one other organization has built itself as the main challenger to their dynasties: the Nashville Predators, last year’s Western Conference champions who swept Chicago out of the postseason and lost to Pittsburgh in the Cup Final.

“They have a great core of young guys who are locked up,” an Eastern Conference scout said of the Predators. “They’re obviously enjoying it there and love it there, and obviously winning helps that. There are no guarantees in sports. That’s why you play the games, but it seems like they’ve set themselves up for a good run over a handful of years here that they can be potentially Stanley Cup contenders.”

Over the past several seasons, Predators general manager David Poile has aggressively inked his star players to long-term, salary-cap-friendly deals, and so far almost all his moves have paid off. In many respects these decisions have been more impactful than Poile’s headline-grabbing trade of defenseman Shea Weber for blueliner P.K. Subban last summer.

All-Star defenseman Roman Josi will make $4 million per year through 2019-20 on a seven-year deal he signed before 2013-14. Fellow blueliners Mattias Ekholm ($3.75 million per year through 2021-22 on a six-year deal) and Ryan Ellis ($2.5 million per year through 2018-19 on a five-year deal) are also locked up to smart contracts below current market value. All three players averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time last season and they are all 27 or younger.

At forward, Poile signed first-line center Ryan Johansen to an eight-year, $64 million contract this offseason. He also inked first-line winger Viktor Arvidsson to a seven-year, $29.75 million deal. Along with first-line winger Filip Forsberg — who signed a six-year, $36 million contract in the summer of 2016 — the Predators’ top trio has three 30-goal scorers being paid a combined $18.25 million. All those forwards are 25 or younger.

According to CapFriendly.com, the Predators still have more than $6 million left in salary-cap space.

“I see some guys who signed right before they really turned the corner, like Josi and Ekholm, where they signed these long-term deals to get security and they really hadn’t turned into the players they are right now,” a player agent said. “The reason they’re able to do this is because of the deals they made with Ellis, Ekholm and Josi.”

The Predators also still have their first-round picks for the next three seasons and employ other contributing younger players on low-salary contracts, such as forwards Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala.

“I think [their salary structure] is a bit of a testament to the organization,” the scout said.

Nashville still does have question marks, however. The Predators lost winger James Neal, who averaged 25.7 goals in three seasons with Nashville, in the expansion draft. Captain Mike Fisher retired and goaltender Pekka Rinne, who makes $7 million per year, will be 35 in November. Last season, the Predators finished 16th in the NHL. Historically speaking, they’ve also never won their division and didn’t make it past the second round of the playoffs until 2017.

Some need more evidence from the Predators before proclaiming their arrival as consistent members of the NHL’s elite.

“You need three foundations: a top-end superstar forward, a superstar defenseman and a superstar goalie to have that dynamic. And I think Johansen can be that [forward]. Is he there right now? I don’t think so, but he can be,” a Western Conference scout said. “Subban they say is an elite defenseman, but I don’t think he is, and Rinne is an elite goaltender, but he’s on the downslope of his career.

“But they have four or five defensemen back there who are really good players too, so we’ll see.”

Along with Nashville, here are some other teams that have the ability to challenge — and potentially win — several Cups in the next few years.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The 30-year-old Crosby and 31-year-old Malkin have led the Penguins to the past two Cups and should be primed for another run next season.

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are arguably the best young 1-2 punch in the game and are signed long term.

Chicago Blackhawks

Although the Blackhawks have been ousted in the first round the past two seasons, they still boast plenty of championship-caliber players in their primes.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The young core of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, led by coach Mike Babcock, should give the Leafs a shot to be competitive for many years.

Wholesale Anaheim Ducks Jersey

Defenseman Francois Beauchemin has signed a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, joining the team for the third time in his 14-year NHL career.

The one-year deal will pay Beauchemin $1 million and contains $500,000 in potential performance bonuses, according to TVA Sports.

Beauchemin, 37, previously played for the Ducks from 2005 to 2009 and 2011 to 2015 before spending the past two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

He became a free agent in June when the Avalanche, looking to free up a protection spot ahead of the expansion draft, bought out the final year of his contract.

Beauchemin, 37, had a cap hit of $4.5 million, and his no-movement clause would have necessitated the Avs protecting him. By exercising the $1.5 million buyout, they were able to shield a younger player from the Vegas Golden Knights.

In his second season with Colorado, Beauchemin had five goals and 13 assists. He has posted 73 goals and 198 assists in 836 career NHL games and has also played for the Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs.