Doan has lots of mileage on him, but his bodily engine purrs like a kitten. Tailoring training to his age is key. Doan’s training must be tweaked constantly to keep his body guessing and adapting.
After 20-plus years of interviews, Shane Doan has had just about every kind of question, good and bad, thrown his way. This one, however, seems to catch him a little bit off guard. When asked to compare his body to some kind of motorized transport, he laughs at the goofy question. But ever the good sport, Doan gives it some thought and willingly plays along. “I’d probably be along the lines of a pickup truck that’s going to last a while and going to be multipurpose,” he said, still chuckling. “Hopefully, it’s got a big enough engine that it can pull things.”
He couldn’t have picked a better comparison. At 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, Doan is built like a truck. Now in his 20th campaign, he’s definitely been durable, and he hasn’t missed more than 13 games in any season since 1997-98. As a physical, two-way player with nearly 400 goals and more than 900 points, as well as 44 career fights, he’s got the multipurpose part covered, too. And in his 12th year as captain, he’s used to hauling his team along. At 39, however, with nearly 1,500 games played, that big ol’ engine requires a little more fine-tuning to run at peak performance. Veterans like Doan react differently to training than rookies do, so they can’t work out the same way. Whereas his 20-year-old teammates, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, get a more general training program because their bodies adapt easier to a simpler stimulus, Doan has a more specified workout regimen. He has had everything except the kitchen sink thrown at him in the gym, so he requires more tweaks and subtleties in his program to force his body to adapt. “You just have to be more strategic, balancing any asymmetries that he has or even the amount of times he trains per week,” said JP Major, strength and conditioning coach for the Arizona Coyotes. “I keep the volume a little bit lower than the younger guys. He’s still strong as a house and still lifts heavy. It’s just a matter of when, how often and how his body responds to it that are going to be a bit different from some of these younger guys.” When it comes to training, the biggest factors for Doan, and veterans like him, are preventing injuries and managing recovery, which weren’t exactly high on the priority list early in his career. Doan admits he barely did any kind of warmup until about six or seven years ago. He now has a comprehensive stretching routine that he runs through every time he practices, plays or trains. All players do, but veterans on the back nine of their careers can’t skip or skim their way through and get away with it like a rookie can once in a while. The risk of pulls, sprains or strains, particularly with hips and groins, is so much greater with veterans than freshmen because their tissue isn’t as pliable. To help mitigate that, Doan, like a lot of vets, takes glucosamine for his joints. Major likens it to pouring water over Play-Doh. When cartilage gets dried out, it gets brittle and can break, leading to joint problems. Like water on Play-Doh, glucosamine gives cartilage more pliability and malleability, making it easier to work with and less susceptible to injury.
Doan can still train as hard as he could in his 20s but just can’t do it as often, because his body needs more time to recover than it did 10 or 20 years ago. Major tracks how long, how often and how hard Doan works out, whether it’s in the gym, at a practice or during a game, and adjusts his training schedule accordingly, because he won’t recover quite as quickly as, say, a Domi or a Duclair. So Doan can’t train like a 20-year-old. Nor can he cheat on his diet like a rookie and get away with it. “If a 20-year-old eats white pasta and ice cream for his pregame and Shane does the same, the way his body uses that fuel is going to be far less efficient than the younger guy who has a different metabolism entirely,” Major said. “It’s about putting a better fuel source in his high-mileage engine to operate at an optimal level.” There’s that mechanical metaphor again. Doan is actually quite used to it. Major goes to that well regularly with him during training sessions. “He’s like, ‘Hey, you got miles on you,’ ” Doan said. “The one he likes is, ‘Hey, sometimes, you’ll hear a rattle in your engine, and if it’s a new car you panic, but when it’s an old car it’s not a big deal. I know that sound…so you don’t have to worry about it.’ He’s used that one on me before, too.” Keeping it light and playful is important for Doan, because after more than two decades in the gym he is at the point in his career where he needs a little extra giddyap to get motivated. He can’t just show up, lift and leave. Ever the competitor – with himself as much as with opponents – he likes to have something, anything, on the line when he trains. In the off-season, along with his gym workouts, Doan plays a myriad of sports, including basketball, soccer, squash and tennis – all of which he admits he’s “not good” or “terrible” at. But that’s not the point. The focus is on maintaining his athleticism by incorporating multidirectional workouts via different sports that change speed, change reactions and change his hip direction. And it helps him work out, because it feels more like playing than training, even if Doan doesn’t always play by the rules off the ice. “If you can make it a game, he’d spend all day in the gym, he just loves it,” Major said, laughing. “But he cheats. He calls it ‘bending the rules,’ but it’s cheating. Anything to win, and the game gets extended until he wins. That is one of the things that keeps him in the game. Not only does he love it more than anything. He’s so competitive, it doesn’t matter what it is. He wants to win, so he’s going to do whatever he can to do that.”