Ahhh! How I love trips down memory lane. And Memory Lane welcomed me as I looked in to the story of today’s subject – Shane Doan, captain of the Phoenix Coyotes. As a young boy, I remember like so many of us, getting up early for Saturday morning television. It was mostly cartoons, but I do remember watching “Circle Square” a 1/2 hour show that featured (if memory serves me) singing, puppets, actors and a story with some issue or dilemma and an eventual solution that pointed to Christ. At the end of each episode, there would be a commercial for the Circle Square Ranch (there were a few of them scattered across Canada). Archery, horseback riding, camping life – the placed looked like paradise to my 8 year old eyes.
What does that memory have to do with Shane Doan? Well, as you can read in this article from Canadian Christianity, Doan grew up on the Circle Square Ranch in Halkirk, Alberta, that his parents owned and operated. He was active at the camp and saw a genuine faith being lived out in the lives of his father and the ranch hands at the camp. And with these solid examples all around him, he began a genuine relationship of his own with Christ at the age of 12.
Hockey in Canada is a lot like football in Texas. You see, hockey players – even as teenagers, are stars (Friday Night Lights-esque). So with that as a backdrop – when Doan left his home and the comfort of the ranch at the age of 15, to play major junior hockey, (as elite as can be for 15-18 year olds) he was about to run head-on into the temptations that this world offers – parties, drugs, alcohol, girls. I am reading Theoren Fleury’s biographical book “Playing with Fire” and he lays out in gritty detail, different troubles that are waiting to attack in the life of a young hockey star. Fleury went through some other things that not all young boys face, but his stories of the partying and hockey life are vivid. If we are not prepared and solid on the foundation of our faith, then when temptation comes at us, it is so easy to compromise our beliefs and give in. Look at the God’s advice to Cain in Genesis 4.7
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
I am the main leader for the 5th and 6th grade ministry at church (here is the Imprint 56 blog). One of my main drives in working with youth is that I want to do whatever I can to help them form a genuine relationship with God. It is so important to have a solid, personal foundation on Christ so that as the difficulties and trials of this life come against them, they can rely on Christ to lead them to make right choices. This is the testimony of Shane Doan. Check out this story from Christianity Today’s Ignite Magazine. Here we read that Doan, at the age of 15, on his own, and 600 miles from home, he took a stand and chose not to compromise his beliefs and give into the temptations that his teammates were inviting him to. He was not judgmental of them and their activities, he just decided that they were not for him. We can’t expect those who don’t have a relationship with God to follow his laws and live by his standards. He speaks a great truth in that if you take a stand the first time, it gets a little easier each time after that.
Shane Doan has carved out quite a nice career in hockey. He has played almost 12oo NHL regular season games, tallying just under 8oo career points with a longevity that saw him play for the Winnipeg Jets (who drafted him #7 overall) before they moved to Phoenix in 1996. He has also competed in the World Championships on 5 occasions and was a member of the 2006 Canadian Olympic Team. The one area in hockey that he has not been very much is Stanley Cup playoffs. Going in to this spring’s run, he has played only 39 playoff games – never playing a game beyond the first round. With the career that he has had, and the message he shares, and the fact that I really liked the Jets the first time they called Winnipeg home, it is easy to hope that Phoenix keeps playing this spring for a while. Next to Zdeno Chara of the Bruins, Doan is the captain that I most hope to see hoist the cup in June!