It has been learned that after 21 years, the Arizona Coyotes and their captain Shane Doan are parting ways.  The Coyotes organization has told the 40-year-old he’s no longer a part of their future plans and that he’ll be free to test the open market. Doan was already scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he now knows returning to his former team is no longer an option.

In a statement released by the organization, Arizona Coyotes Owner, Chairman and Governor Andrew Barroway said the following:

On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to sincerely thank Shane for everything he’s done for the Coyotes on and off the ice the past 21 years. Shane is a Valley icon who had an incredible career and was one of the best captains to ever play in the NHL.

“Shane deserves an enormous amount of credit for keeping the Coyotes in the Valley and for growing the game of hockey in Arizona. He is beloved by our fans, corporate partners and the media and has been a tremendous leader for us in the community, and a great role model for kids. We wish him and his family all the best in the future. He will be a member of our Pack forever.”

Shane Doan was the face of the Coyotes franchise. He stuck with the team as they struggled on the ice and rallied for the organization in a city that didn’t support hockey as the NHL hoped they would. As players left or were traded from the franchise due to financial issues, Doan stayed put, and only in recent years was his frustration over losing quality players beginning to show.

As a player, Doan was the model of consistency. With 402 goals and 972 points in 1,540 games, he’s been one of the better players in the NHL over the past two decades. He’s also clearly been the best player in Coyotes’ franchise history. He went nine straight seasons from 2000-01 until 2008-09 scoring at least 30 goals and recorded at least 50 points in 11 of 12 seasons from 1999-00 until the 2011-12 season. This past year was the first sign of decline in Doan’s game and perhaps it’s the reason Arizona is electing to go another direction.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Doan was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets and when the team relocated to Phoenix, AZ, Doan went along, staying put for his entire 21 years in the NHL. He became ingrained in the community, raised a family there and had no desire to leave. If he wants to keep playing the NHL now, he has no choice.

This may be an opportunity for Doan to pick and choose his location, finally going for a Stanley Cup which has eluded him his entire career. He’s not the player he once was but if willing to accept a discount, can be plugged into a winning organization’s depth chart and potentially win it all before hanging up his skates.

This summer was already going to be interesting. With the news that Shane Doan may either retire or seek a new team, it’s gotten more dramatic. Doan would have been one of the very few people to stay with one team his entire career. It could still happen, but not if Doan wants to keep playing professional hockey in the NHL.

NEXT: THE LONGEST CAREERS IN THE NHL

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