Shane Doan had just finished his rookie season in Winnipeg when the Jets moved to Arizona in 1996.
Doan became the face of hockey in the desert, staying loyal to the Coyotes through roster overhauls, ownership changes and relocation talk.
Now Doan is something more: the franchise's career leading goal scorer.
Doan scored twice and passed Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk for the record in the Coyotes' 4-2 home victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
"He wants to be the leader, and to see him succeed at it is really gratifying," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "You see how much work the guy puts into it and you see how much work he's put into this franchise."
Doan took Max Domi's feed on a 2-on-1 and beat Connor Hellebuyck midway through the first period to set the record. His empty-enter with 15.7 seconds left was his 381st goal.
Hawerchuk scored 379 goals for the then-Winnipeg Jets in 713 games from 1982-90. It took 1,422 games for the 39-year-old Doan to surpass that, and he did it against the reborn Jets.
"Obviously the symbolism is pretty cool," Doan said.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Viktor Tikhonov scored power-play goals in the third period and Louis Domingue stopped 35 shots for Arizona.
Adam Lowry scored twice and Hellebuyck made 17 saves for the Jets. Coach Paul Maurice was fuming over the officiating after their two-game winning streak was snapped.
"We just dominated most of the game and couldn't figure out the puzzle. You can't touch them and you can't dive," Maurice said. "We couldn't figure that out."
"You can't take the penalties that we took. You just can't. You can complain about the calls all you want. But if you expect consistency and quality, you aren't coming to the game we play."
Doan, the NHL's longest tenured captain, broke into a wide grin as his teammates mobbed him after the first-period goal. The crowd remained standing and cheering as the officials ushered the puck to the Coyotes bench.
But Doan's family wasn't there. His wife and four children were vacationing in Hawaii. Doan said his kids, while on the beach, sent him a congratulatory video message.
Doan later set a screen in front of the net on Ekman-Larsson's winner with 7:25 left while Tyler Myers served a penalty for hitting Tobias Rieder in the face.
Doan tapped his team-leading 13th goal into an empty net.
It was fitting that Doan's milestone came against Winnipeg and from Domi, the son of former Jets enforcer Tie Domi.
Domi never thought of shooting himself on the 2-on-1 rush.
"No, not once," Domi said, smiling.
Doan scored seven goals as a rookie in Winnipeg during the 1995-96 season before the move to the desert. Doan is from Halkirk, Alberta, and was happy to see hockey return to Winnipeg when the Atlanta Thrashers moved there in 2011.
Winnipeg, starting a season-long five-game trip, took a 1-0 lead when Lowry poked in a rebound 3:31 into the game. Domingue protested he had the puck pinned to the right post.
The Jets were outshooting the Coyotes 29-11 after two periods. But with Andrew Ladd serving a cross-checking penalty to start the third, Michael Stone's shot struck Tikhonov in front of the net. Tikhonov collected the puck and rammed it in.
Domingue's errant clearance led to Lowry's second goal at 7:45 to make it to 2-2. It was Lowry's third goal since being called up from the AHL on Sunday.
Doan his hotter, with five goals in two games. He earned his second career hat trick in a loss Tuesday night to Chicago.
The fans honoured Doan before the game by tossing over 100 hats on the ice at the end of the warmup. A smiling Doan picked up a black cowboy hat and put it on as he skated off the ice."
"It kind of caught me off guard and I didn't know what to do," Doan said. "I want to say thanks to the fans because it's obviously pretty incredible that they would do something like that."