Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Coyotes forward Shane Doan share a laugh and a hug after skating novice Fitzgerald "scored" a goal Monday afternoon during some ice time at Gila River Arena.
The two friends laughed and celebrated with a high-five and a hug, which was an accomplishment in itself since Larry Fitzgerald had never been on skates before.
Coyotes forward Shane Doan and the Cardinals wide receiver have known each other for about six years – they met while doing commercials for Desert Schools Federal Credit Union – and had briefly talked about getting Fitzgerald on the ice before.
Finally Monday, it happened, in advance of Fitzgerald's night at the Coyotes game Feb. 11, which will feature a giveaway of a
"I'm a one-sport athlete that was trying something new," Fitzgerald said. "It was more difficult than I imagined."
Then again, it was fun to hang out with a friend. And for Fitzgerald and Doan – the two Arizona star athletes who not only are faces of the franchise but have spent their lengthy careers with just one team – the friendship makes sense.
"We're probably friends because I'm the biggest fan of his," Doan said. "I think he's amazing. It's cool anytime you get to do anything with him."
Fitzgerald just committed to his 14th season with the Cardinals, saying he'll play in 2017. Doan has been around even longer, having traveled with the Winnipeg Jets in the franchise's move to Phoenix in 1996 and having played with them since then – this is his 21st NHL season.
"He's stuck around a lot longer than I have," Fitzgerald said. "He's just a loyal person. The community should be very thankful for his loyalty and his dedication. … To go through some of the tough years he's gone through, you know he's dedicated."
Doan was also dedicated to showing Fitzgerald around the ice. It's an upset that Fitzgerald, who was born and raised in Minnesota, never
skated in his life (he said he was always playing basketball in the winter.)
Fitzgerald said Doan often checks up on him during the season, but it's usually not about their day jobs. It's about other things in their life, including what might be their next step in the community.
"He's just a terrific human being," Fitzgerald said. "Anybody who has ever been around him can attest to the quality of man he is. I enjoy talking to him, learning from him. He's a true professional. Play this long at the level he's played at, it takes more than athleticism. He's a very intelligent person."
Fitzgerald said had he not been comfortable enough on the skates he would have stayed near the boards. But he was able to stay on his skates enough to get out on the ice, toss some passes back and forth with Doan and eventually "score" on a one-timer pass.
He never fell once.
"The willingness to do something out of his comfort zone is always special," Doan said. "He was a lot better than I thought he'd be."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald gets on the ice for the first time ever with Coyotes veteran Shane Doan