Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan retires after 21-year career

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Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan. (Source: AP Photo) Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan. (Source: AP Photo)

Former Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan has retired from the NHL after a 21-year career.

The right-winger spent all 21 seasons with the Arizona Coyotes franchise, appearing in 1,540 games and scoring 402 goals.

Doan left a letter to fans published in The Arizona Republic thanking them for enjoying the game along side him.

"I've been blessed and I'm so grateful for the fans and their support," Doan wrote in a letter. "They stuck by me throughout my career and the ups and downs of the Coyotes. 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. I can't express how much I appreciate it."

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Coyotes]

The long-time captain was selected seventh overall in the first round of the 1995 draft by the Winnipeg Jets, a team that would leave Winnipeg for Arizona the following year.

He became the embodiment of the Coyotes, relishing in the glory of the team's run to the 2012 Western Conference Finals, putting on a brave face during the difficult times.

Built like a refrigerator on skates, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Doan played with a combination of grit and skill, skating every shift with the same intensity.

Doan left a lasting legacy with the Coyotes as the team's all-time leader in several statistics including games played (1,540), shots (3,945), goals (402), assists (570) and points (972). He fought through various injuries and remained a steady force, leading the Coyotes with 28 goals while notching 19 assists just two seasons ago.

[RELATED: Coyotes won't offer captain Shane Doan a contract]

Doan saw a slip in production last season, finishing with six goals and 21 assists, and the final game of the 2016-17 season felt like a going-away party for him, filled with tributes and speeches.?

In June, the Coyotes made a controversial decision to not offer Doan a new contract, spelling an end to his career with the team. That made the 40-year-old a free agent and left him to decide whether to hang up his skates or play for another team.

"The time has come for us to move on and to focus on our young, talented group of players and our very bright future," Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway said in the statement on June 19. "This was a very difficult decision given what Shane has done for the Coyotes and his unparalleled importance to the organization. With that said, this is necessary to move us forward as a franchise."

A devout Christian, Doan prayed and talked it over with his wife, Andrea, for months before deciding it was time.

"I truly believe this is His timing." Doan wrote. "I have peace, and I'm so thankful for that."

[RELATED: Shane Doan’s exit signals beginning of Coyotes’ youth movement]

The Arizona Coyotes issued a statement Wednesday regarding Doan's announcement. 

On behalf of the entire Arizona Coyotes organization, our fans and our corporate partners, we would like to thank Shane for everything that he's done for our franchise over the past 21 years. Shane had an incredible career on the ice and we are very proud of everything that he accomplished in a Coyotes uniform. He will be remembered as one of the greatest captains in NHL history. Off the ice, Shane was a great ambassador for growing the game of hockey in Arizona and his contributions to the community are immeasurable. Shane will be a Coyote for life. Thank you Captain!

[RELATED: 'Captain Coyote': Faith is 'part of everything I do' (Feb. 23, 2016)]

[RELATED: Captain Coyote Shane Doan turns to his roots in the off season (June 7, 2012)]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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