Shane Doan's retirement banner is the perfect metaphor for the Arizona Coyotes

Franchise legend Shane Doan was reunited with his retired number banner before what might be the last Arizona Coyotes game. Why that banner never made it to Mullet arena is a small example of the franchise's incompitence and disregard of who supported the team.
Shane Doan (L-R) stands with his wife Andrea Doan, and children Carson, Josh and Karys as the 19
Shane Doan (L-R) stands with his wife Andrea Doan, and children Carson, Josh and Karys as the 19 / Patrick Breen/The Republic

When I was growing up and began to be interested in NHL history I remember watching a YouTube clip of the Hartford Whalers final game at the old Civic Center.

I could only imagine how those fans felt sitting there watching their team for one last time. It was a sad story that you already knew the ending too, but you watch anyway.

The Arizona Coyotes ' last game last night brought back those feelings. Now in the age of social media instead of just one old broadcast clip, there was a collection of fan reactions, teary-eyed broadcasters, and even the often hilarious Paul Bissonette getting emotional.

If it’s any small solace to Coyotes fans, the entire NHL fan base was rooting for them on Wednesday.

The Arizona Coyotes have been a poorly ran organization for a long time

Buried in the small avalanche of stories and developments about the relocation was the story of Shane Doan’s banner from his jersey retirement during the 2018-2019 season.

At the start of the relocation news, a fan tweeted that he had Shane Doan’s retired number banner that was hung up at the team’s old home of Gila River Arena (since renamed Desert Diamond Arena).

At first glance, it seemed like a joke, but it turns out it was real. Doan was reunited with his banner during Wednesday’s emotional contest.

The banner was left behind when the team was unceremoniously evicted from Gila River Arena. According to Leah Morell, a digital content manager for PHNX Sports, the team was contacted by the arena about the banner, but never went to get it.

Many reports on Twitter said Doan’s banner was tossed in a dumpster for a fan to retrieve. Yahoo Sports reports the banner was instead kept in a storage room at Gila River Arena until recovered by longtime fan Matthew Jacobson.

At face value, it’s a fun fan-centered story with a happy ending amid a very sad night for the Coyotes’ faithful.

On a deeper level, it’s the perfect metaphor for what the franchise has endured under its mismanagement: its history and potential just discarded away without a second thought for the meaning it has.

Even if it was just a banner it was meant to honor the greatest player in franchise history. Doan stuck with the franchise through all of its ups and downs and there were a lot of downs. Throughout all the chaos he was a constant piece of positive stability for Arizona.

Is that all the franchise owners thought of him? As a banner to be left behind without a second thought?

A lot has been said about Mullet Arena lacking normal NHL arena qualities. It’s completely understandable that perhaps a huge retired number banner that can hang in the rafters of a 15,000-seat arena might not fit in a smaller college arena.

That’s a reason for the same banner not being used at Mullet Arena, but it’s no excuse for the Coyotes not to find a way to honor Doan at Mullet Arena.

If you can find a way to display a sponsorship banner, you can find a way to display something, literally anything, with Doan’s retired number.

Doan was a beloved franchise mainstay until the end. His son Josh was drafted by the team and played the last few games of the season with the Coyotes.

Although Shane is currently employed by the playoff-bound Toronto Maple Leafs, he changed his plans to be there one last time in Arizona. Maybe he wasn’t expecting the gift Matthew Jacobson gave him, but hockey fans everywhere are glad a tangible piece of team history was saved and landed in good hands.

The kachina jerseys skate off into the sunset with one last heartwarming story.