Brad Treliving has reportedly begun shaping his front office with the hiring of Coyotes legend Shane Doan as a Special Advisor to the General Manager.

Treliving worked as an assistant GM in Arizona for 11 years during Doan’s tenure as Coyotes captain. The relationship is clearly quite strong here for the Valley icon to leave his prior post with the only NHL franchise he’s ever worked or played for.

After hanging up the skates in 2017 following a 1,540-game playing career spent exclusively with the Coyotes (14 years as captain), Doan had been serving in the role of chief development officer and a strategic advisor to GM Bill Armstrong in Arizona since 2021, spanning a few years in which the franchise has been in an uncertain and tumultuous transition period off the ice while rebuilding on the ice and graduating lots of young talent to the NHL roster (Matias Maccelli, Barrett Hayton, JJ Moser, Jack McBain).

According to Armstrong, Doan “supported the club’s business and hockey operations departments and advised on major club decisions and initiatives” during his two-and-a-half years in the role. Per Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan, Doan felt it was more of a ceremonial position than one with meaningful input into the hockey operations decision-making.

It’s natural to think of Doan occupying the role Jason Spezza had been serving as Kyle Dubas’ assistant — and there are some obvious parallels as former 1,200+ game pros who served as highly-respected leaders on their respective clubs, recently retired, are close with the current Leafs GM, and have loads of connections with current NHLers around the league — but it is noteworthy that Doan has likely been lured to Toronto by a more impactful role and enters with several years of additional experience in an NHL F.O./as Team Canada GM.

After the end of his playing career, Doan also worked for three years at the NHL’s head office in the hockey operations department under Colin Campbell — liaising with club executives and serving on the competition committee — and has worked for several years as a manager in Team Canada’s executive group at the World Hockey Championships and at the Olympics.

Doan first served as a consultant for the Team Canada management team during the 2019 World Hockey Championship, a group that included Ron Francis, Jason Botterill, and Ron Hextall. He then won a gold medal with Team Canada in 2021 while serving as an assistant next to GM Roberto Luongo (a squad that included Michael Bunting on the player roster). After serving as Team Canada’s GM in 2022, he most recently won another gold medal as an assistant GM a few weeks ago — serving alongside Blues GM Doug Armstrong and Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman — during Canada’s championship win in late May 2023. The Canadian team certainly didn’t ice its most talented crop of players on paper but overcame a few preliminary-stage losses to beat Finland, Latvia, and Germany en route to the gold medal victory in Tampere, Finland.

Doan also served as Team Canada GM at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing (Canada finished sixth place after a quarterfinal loss to Sweden), where he appointed Claude Julien as his head coach just as he did at the 2022 Worlds.

Notably, Doan was not only Arizona native Auston Matthews’ favourite player growing up but is personal friends with Auston and reportedly attends the same church as his parents. There haven’t been any indications Matthews wants to go anywhere but Toronto despite the initial speculation about the potential impact of Kyle Dubas’ exit on the player-management relationship and Matthews’ confidence in the organization’s future going forward, but this certainly won’t hurt the smoothening over of the transition. It’s easy to picture Doan sitting down with Treliving and the Matthews family during Treliving’s scheduled visit to Arizona as the new Leafs GM establishes the relationship and opens up an initial dialogue about Matthews’ future with the club ahead of a critically-important contract negotiation.

Doan is also connected to the Maple Leafs’ Matthew Knies, who he coached with the Jr. Coyotes and is a good friend of Shane’s son Josh (a Coyotes prospect). Doan also played with Luke Schenn on the Coyotes, and he has familiarity with Michael Bunting from Bunting’s time in Arizona as well as on Team Canada at the WHCs. He also has a relationship with the team’s director of player development, Hayley Wickenheiser, from Team Canada activities as well as their efforts to support the Humboldt community following the 2018 tragedy in Saskatchewan [“35 NHL players came in (to Humboldt),” said Wickenhiser. “Shane Doan was getting ice cream for the sons of (Broncos coach) Darcy Haugan – and sitting with them at the concert — because that’s just what Shane Doan does.”]

The specifics of Doan’s title and the scope/nature of his job responsibilities won’t be known until the Maple Leafs make an official announcement on the hiring.

Update (12:30 pm EST, June 9):