Lucas Aykroyd –

When some guys hit 40, they have a mid-life crisis. But Shane Doan, whose birthday was earlier this week on October 10, appears to be handling that milestone just fine.

The NHL’s oldest captain signed a one-year deal with a base salary of $2.5 million US in July. Entering his 21st NHL season with the Arizona Coyotes franchise, Doan has been remarkably consistent throughout his career. His 28 goals last year represented the third-best total of his career. Drafted seventh overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 1995, he’s the all-time franchise leader in goals, assists and points (396-549-945 in 1,466 career games).

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett knows the secret to success for the last remaining player to suit up for the previous NHL incarnation of the Jets: “He has fun out there. He has a passion for the game, and he’s infectious in our group. When he scores a goal, everyone’s awful happy. He’s a great leader and he’ll be a good player for us this year.”

The Coyotes are seeking their first playoff berth since 2011-12, when they lost the Western Conference finals 4-1 to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. Whether or not they return to the post-season, Doan’s IIHF legacy is secure.

The gritty right winger won two gold medals (2003, 2007) and three silver medals (2005, 2008, 2009) at the IIHF World Championships with Canada, and played at the 2006 Turin Olympics. But his biggest international moment was tallying the 3-2 winner versus Finland’s Miikka Kiprusoff in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey final. caught up with the Halkirk, Alberta native before tonight’s start of the season for the Coyotes. As usual, Doan smiled as broadly as his famous speedskating cousin, two-time Olympic gold medalist Catriona LeMay Doan.

How do you like your team so far?

It’s encouraging that we have so many guys that are capable of playing. We’ve probably got about 30 guys who are capable of playing in the NHL. Some of the young guys are establishing themselves as good players. How we’re going to do, we’ll see when the season starts.

As a veteran, what do you try to do in pre-season to get your game in order?

There are lots of things you want to be better at. Tonight, my feet weren’t moving as well as I wanted. I didn’t make very many good plays. I scored, but scoring kinda can hide some ugly things. I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be tonight, but as a veteran guy, you just try to get your feet going. The speed of the game is so much quicker than what you do in the summer or what you do in scrimmages. It’s about trying to get used to that.

At your age, how do you stay motivated to do your rigorous off-season workouts?

I really enjoy just playing games. For me, it’s competition, goofing around, playing, whether it’s sprints or playing soccer. I played a bunch of soccer. I’m a terrible soccer player, horrendous soccer player, but I played a bunch. And I work out. My boy works out with me now, which, as a dad, is something pretty special to me. That gives me motivation when I see him doing it with me. It’s a lot of fun.

Max Domi and Anthony Duclair had great rookie seasons last year. What do you expect out of them?

I think you always think of that second year as being a letdown because of that enthusiasm and emotion that you bring to making it in your first year. But they are such incredible talents. They are special, special talents. I’m really excited about it. Max is just so powerful and quick and moves the puck so well. And Anthony is a scorer. You make one mistake with him on the ice and he’s going to score. Duke is as gifted of an offensive player as I’ve played with in a long time. So it’ll be fun to watch them.

What was it like to watch Brad Marchand score the winning goal for Canada at the World Cup of Hockey as you did in ‘04?

As a Canadian, it’s so special to watch any time Team Canada plays and wins. To see guys come together and be so dominating, we all take so much pride in it as a country. It was special and fun. Really enjoyed it.

Which of your World Championships stands out the most for you?

I think winning in Moscow in 2007 was probably my favorite. Rick Nash scored a goal that was pretty incredible in the final [against Finland]. I was coming up from behind, chasing, watching him do all the work. As usual, it was pretty fun to watch. That was one of the most exciting moments in the World Championships for me.

Auston Matthews put on a show at the World Cup with two goals and an assist for Team North America. As somebody who’s been committed to growing hockey in the desert, what does it mean to have a kid from Arizona taking the spotlight in Toronto this year?

It’s incredible. He’s just a perfect flagbearer for the state. He does so many things well. And as incredible as he is as a hockey player, it’s the way he carries himself. That’s probably the most remarkable thing about him. It’s going to be fun to watch him mature. He’s going to be the number one centreman for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the future, most likely. To have that come from Arizona is pretty special. The state is proud of him.

Wayne Gretzky was recently named the NHL’s centennial ambassador. You know him well through Hockey Canada and his four seasons behind the Coyotes bench. In your mind, what defines him?

Just the way he includes everybody in every situation. He’s so disarming as a person. He’s the Great One. He’s Wayne Gretzky. He’s everyone’s hockey idol. He’s who we look up to. The way he is with people is probably the most impressive thing I ever saw in a superstar. He’s the superstar for our sport and he handles people with such class. There are so many little things he did for people here and the staff, for the players.

Last month, you branched out a bit and had some fun. You conducted the Phoenix Symphony in the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and threw out the first pitch at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game. Did you get any ideas for your post-playing career?

I’m not going to do anything with the symphony, that’s for sure! [laughs] I was a little overmatched in that. I thought that was a special thing. Throwing out the first pitch was pretty cool too. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is someone I really admire. Going down on the field where he plays is something special. Getting to take my kids down there was fun too. I think that’s probably the best part. As I’ve gotten older, my kids have gotten to experience a lot of fun things.