Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  By CRAIG MORGAN  |  Last updated 11/11/13

DALLAS - JANUARY 31: (L-R) Sami Lepisto #18, Shane Doan #19 and Keith Yandle #3 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrate a goal against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on January 31, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shane Doan is off to the second-best start of his 18-year NHL career as far as goal scoring. With eight goals in his first 18 games, the Coyotes captain is on pace to eclipse his career-high for goals in a season, which was 31 in the 2008-09 season. Oh, yeah. Doan turned 37 in October. What gives? "Honestly, I feel young again," he said. There are multiple reasons for that feeling. "His mind is fresh and his body is healed," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "He had some medical issues taken care of in the off-season, and then, when you look at how hard he's worked to help this franchise find stability here and all the hours he put in during the lockout, he's had a lot on his plate the past couple seasons." Doan had double-hernia surgery this summer that he admitted Monday had actually been bothering him for two seasons, not just last season. "When you're hurt, you feel older," he said. "Everything is a big effort. It feels like work." Doan suffered his first hernia in 2000, then another in 2001. Those were surgically repaired with an old medical technique where mesh is used to fix the tears. The mesh has a shelf life of 10-12 years, so Doan finally saw a Philadelphia-based doctor this summer to undergo another hernia repair procedure that has done wonders for his body. So has the absence of the ownership saga, which dragged on for four years. Doan rolls his eyes when asked how many times he was asked about the club's long-term prognosis in the Valley. But the blessing and curse of being Shane Doan is that he answered the questions every time, with the same polite and respectful tone you always get from him, even if he secretly wants to strangle you. Now that those physical and mental hurdles are in the past, Doan is approaching the next chapter of his career like a kid at recess. But it also helps that the Coyotes brought in center Mike Ribeiro to aid the power play, while defensemen Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have matured into the offensive catalysts the team envisioned when they drafted both. "I've said it before, but when you look at our back end, those guys don't get enough credit," Doan said. "When you take the reins off of them and let them get after it, they do amazing things." Tippett can't speak for how Doan was used by previous coaches, but its possible that Doan is finally getting a chance to maximize his goal-scoring opportunity because of the personnel that surround him. "This is probably the most skill he's had in a group to play with when you look at Ribeiro (Antoine) Vermette, (Ekman)-Larsson and Yandle," Tippett said. "The skill level of our group is a little higher and everybody gets dragged into that, everybody gets opportunities from it." Those opportunities increase with the man advantage. Five of Doan's eight goals this season have come on the power play, That, Doan notes, feels doubly special "after I got shut out in that department last season." Ribeiro clearly draws attention when he has the puck, but so do Yandle and Ekman-Larsson, which might be creating just a little more space for Doan, who Tippett also thinks is a step quicker with his health in order. "When you look at those three key guys, they're all left-handed passers, and he's a right-handed shooter, so you can easily put those two things together and figure out why he's finding opportunities," Tippett said. "But he's taking good shots, too, and he's been good at net front (setting up screens). He's done it a lot on the power play, and Yandle and Ekman-Larsson have gotten a lot of pucks through (for redirects or rebounds)." Six of Doan's eight goals have come with a Yandle assist attached, but Yandle insists he isn't looking for Doan any more than he usually does. "I always look for him. I know whenever he's on the ice because he can make a difference in a game," Yandle said. "I just think pucks are finding him more, and I dont know if he gets enough credit for how hard his shot is and how good it is. He works on it every day after practice, and he's 37 years old, which says a lot about the kind of player he is."Doan admits that not scoring in his first five games, and only netting one in his first nine, was frustrating, even if he thinks the well-worn narrative of his slow starts is a bit overplayed. "Sure it was frustrating. It was driving me crazy," he said. "In the end it doesn't matter if we're winning, but I love scoring goals. I really love scoring goals, and it just wasn't happening." Goalie Mike Smith and goalie coach Sean Burke both noticed that most of Doan's shots were ending up between two and three feet off the ice where a goalie's hands can easily grab them. Now Doan is working on keeping the shots low or high. Doan has never been a 35-goal scorer and has only reached 30 twice. While he would like to score 30 again, he isn't nearly as hung up on that as he was earlier in his career. "When you get older you just understand that there are more important things," he said. "I know who I am as a scorer and as a player, and I'm comfortable with it." Tippett was asked if there will come a time soon when Doan, the face of this franchise for a decade, will have to accept a lesser role. "I haven't seen anything to indicate that's where it's headed," he said. "If youre a team playing against, us he's still one of the key guys you look at." But Doan knows that day has to come. "It's good to hear Tip isn't seeing any reason to do it now," he said, laughing, "but when that day comes, I'll be OK with it. As long as I can still contribute." Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Bubba Watson's caddie owns heckler at PGA Championship

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents


U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker