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Max Domi - Not exactly a chip off the old block


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It probably isn't the best week to be introducing you to Max Domi. That's because we are obliged to report that the 15-year-old son of retired NHL tough guy Tie Domi was suspended this week for eight games for his part in a line brawl in a Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) minor midget AAA game between his Don Mills Flyers and their arch rivals, the Toronto Marlies.

So right away, you're going to start connecting the dots... son of Tie Domi... line brawl... 8-game suspension... a real chip off the old block, right?


The reason for getting to know Max is not because he's a minor hockey enforcer cut from the same cloth as his dad but because he's precisely the opposite -- a talented, highly-skilled playmaking, goal-scoring centre who is, by most accounts, the top prospect available in this year's Ontario Hockey League priority selection, aka the minor midget draft.

"Oh, jeez, no, I would never want him to play the game the way I played it," Tie Domi said of his son. "I did what I had to do to play in the NHL but Max is a totally different player from me. He's highly skilled. He makes plays. He scores goals. He can play with an edge but I would much rather it be a Mark Messier type edge than my type of edge. I just want him to live his dream and be himself. He doesn't need to fight tough guys to do that."

Max Domi's eight-game suspension was two games for fighting and an additional six games for fighting after a helmet came off during the fight. A number of the other players on the ice during the brawl actually got double digit suspensions compared to Max's eight.

But here's the thing. In the grand scheme of it all , it doesn't really matter because the brawl and ensuing suspension(s) are not what the 5-foot-9, 175-pound centre is all about.

"He's a skilled, very talented offensive player who skates well," said an OHL scout. "Fighting, brawling, that's not him. He's smart and he sees the ice well. He's a really good player. He's a dynamic talent. It's early in the season yet but right now, most (scouts) would tell you he's No. 1 or close to it in terms of the 1995s (birth year) for the OHL draft."

"Max is an elite talent, as skilled as any player I've seen in his age group," said Flyers' head coach Bob Marshall, a standout U.S. college defenceman at Miami of Ohio who was drafted by the Calgary Flames and had an eight-year minor pro career in the 1990s. "The brawl we had, that's not Max. It's the furthest thing from the way he plays the game. He's not Tie. I kid Tie all the time, 'Are you sure Max is your son?' Not only is Max unbelievably skilled, but he has a tremendous work ethic and he's just a terrific kid to coach, on and off the ice."

And that, along with the fact he's Tie Domi's son , is the real story.

Like most kids of NHL players, Max grew up with the game. Tie has pictures of him as a toddler on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens, in a snowsuit, wearing skates, laying on his stomach and throwing pucks into the net. He's always been a good player in minor hockey. He led the prestigious Brick atom tournament in Edmonton in scoring, has won numerous minor hockey championships and often been a leading scorer.

"He had one goal and 16 assists in the Brick tournament," Tie recollected. "He's always liked being a playmaker more than a goal-scorer but that's changed a bit."

In part, because of Mario Lemieux, who is one of Tie's best friends and a quasi-uncle/mentor to Max.

"Mario jokingly told Max, 'We don't pay guys to get assists,' so Max has been trying to shoot more," Tie said. "Mario is his role model."

But he does play for the (Don Mills) Flyers and wears No. 16 and that's no coincidence either.

Max used to wear No. 13 but that was before he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago. Tie recalled being in the doctor's office when Max was given the news.

"He asked the doctor, 'Can I still play hockey?' and the doctor said, 'Can you still play hockey? Are you serious? Have you ever heard of Bobby Clarke? He had diabetes just like you but he was one of the best and toughest hockey players who ever played the game. And they didn't have insulin pumps when Bobby Clarke played. You absolutely can play hockey. "

On the way home in the car from Sick Kids' Hospital, Max asked Tie about Bobby Clarke and Tie told him the story of how when Tie was a kid growing up in Belle River, Ont., Tie wanted so badly to be like Bobby Clarke that he knocked out his own two front teeth to look like the Flyer captain.

"That's when he changed from No. 13 to No. 16," Tie said. "Having Mario Lemieux and Bobby Clarke as your inspirations, those are two pretty good role models to have."

Max was at a minor hockey tournament and Bobby Clarke happened to be there so Max's mom Leanne introduced herself to Clarke, who went to the Flyers' dressing room to talk to the kids and meet Max.

It hasn't always been easy for Max with the Domi nameplate on his sweater.

His mom Leanne says Max has taken a lot of verbal abuse over the years, but she adds that he's always taken it in stride.

"He just says, it is what it is, and he's never really let it bother him too much," Leanne said. "He's actually used it to motivate him. He's just a very resilient kid. I mean, as parents we are probably more upset about the suspension than he is. He told me this suspension will make it more difficult for him to try to break (Steven) Stamkos's scoring record but that he'll still try. He's ready to move on and just deal with it. Max has been blessed with some innate natural ability that Tie never had, and Tie will be the first to tell you that, but Max has also benefited from the all the guidance Tie has been able to give him on how to work like a pro, be a good teammates, train off ice with the best people. Tie worked very hard to be an NHL player and it wasn't easy and Max knows how much work is required because he is Tie's son. Max has seen the worst of the worst from some people but he's also seen the best of the best."

Like a lot of talented 15 year olds who are in their major junior draft year, it's decision time in terms of whether to play in the OHL or perhaps go the U.S. college route. Domi, of course, played for the Peterborough Petes and has been a big booster of what the OHL did for him, but that doesn't necessarily mean he thinks it's best for Max.

"The OHL is a great league and (OHL commissioner) David Branch has spoken to us and he's a very convincing man," Domi said, "but I worry if he plays in the OHL with that Domi name on the back of his sweater, is he going to have to fight his way through the league because of who I was and what I was? Because we don't want that for him. That's not him. He might be better off going to play college hockey."

Max attended a recent college showcase tournament and played in front of a multitude of NCAA head coaches and, at this point anyway, looks as though he may be college bound once he's finished high school.

"We're focused on five schools right now," Domi said. "Boston College, Boston University, Michigan, Harvard and Yale. We'll see what happens. Max trained in the summer with (strength and conditioning coach) Matt Nichol and Matt trains Mike Cammalleri and Cammy told Max school is a great way to go so that's where w'ere at right now. It's what I want for him, what his mom wants for him and what he wants too."

"The important thing," Leanne added, "is just to keep Max grounded and make sure he's aware of all the options available to him. It's early in the year and it's a long season and a player has to keep proving himself, but it's obvious that Max is getting a lot of attention right now and you have to take steps in regard to that. College would be a wonderful life experience for him and if he can do that and keep advancing in hockey, that would be great. But it's early so we'll just see what happens."

With all the attention that has been focused on Max, it became necessary for Domi to get a family advisor. Pat Brisson of CAA, best friends with Mario Lemieux, is now looking out for Max's best interests in hockey.

Tie is an assistant coach on Max's team but handles the defence, not the forwards.

"It's a big year for him, but I'm just happy to be a part of it," Tie said. "He's a good player and he's a good kid."

Those who work closely with Max Domi -- Bob Marshall and Matt Nichol, amongst others -- says he's not so much a good kid as he is a great kid -- polite, respectful, hard working, appreciative and thoughtful, to which I could only ask Tie: Are you sure he's your kid?

So in that case, all kidding and the eight-game suspension aside, it turns out it is a good week to be introduced to Max Domi.

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  • 1 year later...

49 points in 62 games for the london knights in his rookie season (good for 3rd among rookies). pretty good stuff. I wouldn't mind getting him, if all the chips fall correctly.

another article:

Max Domi: A Different Chip Off The Old Block

by David OConnor on November 19, 2011.


If you didn’t know his last name was Domi, you would never guess that he’s the son of a legendary hockey enforcer. Max Domi’s elite offensive talent and vision have already made him a scoring threat in the OHL, even though he’s only played 20 games with the London Knights. The son of Tie Domi (best known for his scraps while with the Toronto Maple Leafs), Max plays a very different style of game than his father did. While Tie was a fighter, Max prefers to call himself a playmaker, but he also has tremendous goal scoring ability. “I like to pass and make the guys around me better. It’s a natural instinct for me to pass and not shoot on a two-on-one,” he says. Whether it’s a pass or a shot, opposing goaltenders are already beginning to fear facing Domi in any situation.

Max graduated from the Don Mills Flyers AAA program after last season, a season in which he offensively led his team to win 60 of 74 games, and the Greater Toronto Hockey League title. In an article from The Canadian Press, his former Flyers coach Bob Marshall had this to say about Domi:

“Max has outstanding offensive skills and instincts,” said Marshall. “I think what gets lost with all his offensive abilities is how sound he is defensively and how hard he has worked to learn and continue to learn how to play in his own end and without the puck. Some kids are gifted and they just take it for granted and get by on that, but Max is one of the hardest working kids I have been around in practice and in his
. I think that’s what will separate him from the pack,” added Marshall.

Coming into this season a lot of people were questioning whether Max would able to handle higher levels of hockey because of his size, and also because of the target automatically placed on him due to his last name. So far he’s proving the doubters wrong. Domi has 19 points through 20 games with the Knights this season and is leading all OHL rookies in scoring. He’s a must-watch player every time he steps on the ice, and has already become one of London’s top forwards. The fact that the Knights are the number one team in the CHL right now makes it even harder to believe that Domi’s one of their best scoring weapons.

“He’s an elite player,” said Knights assistant
Misha Donskov. “He’s a great kid and a character player. He has vision on the ice and impresses everyone with the hard passes right on the tape.”

Domi was originally selected eight overall by the Kingston Frontenacs last May in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, just one spot ahead London, who chose Bo Horvat with the ninth pick. It became clear almost immediately that Max had pretty much no interest in playing for Kingston. With one of Tie’s best friends, Doug Gilmour, being the Fronts general manager, it was definitely an interesting situation. Max was drafted by the USHL’s Indiana Ice earlier in the year as well, as at the time, it sounded like he would prefer to go the NCAA route, and play for the University of Michigan Wolverines further down the road. However, Domi did make it known that if he were to play in the OHL, it would have to be for the London Knights, and no one else. Since London was very interested in acquiring Max’s services, they sent three second-round picks to the Frontenacs, two coming in 2012, the other in 2015. By drafting him and having Domi not show up for training camp, the Frontenacs also obtained a compensatory first-round pick in next year’s first round. The trade appears to be a good one for both teams, as Kingston really loaded up on high draft picks, and London got exactly who they wanted.

Max was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago. His father Tie says, “When the doctor told him, the first thing Max said was ‘will I be able to play hockey?’”The doctor looked at Max and said ‘play hockey? Do you know Bobby Clarke had diabetes? He was one of the toughest players ever.” That’s the reason Max wears number sixteen, and it just so happens that Max’s current roommate, Jared Knight, is also a Type 1 diabetic.

Max is clearly a player with a high skill level, and new Knights assistant coach Dylan Hunter will be one of the first to tell you so, saying this about the budding star:

“Max has exemplary skills. He is a very powerful skater with a strong stride, and for his age he’s very hard to knock off the puck,” said Hunter. “He’s a tremendous athlete, who passes the puck hard — he doesn’t chip it forward to his teammates, he wires it.”

With a good mix of veteran forwards like Jared Knight, Tampa prospect Vladislav Namestnikov, plus Seth Griffith and Dane Fox, along with a great trio of 2012 NHL Draft eligible sophomores in twins Matt and Ryan Rupert, and Andreas Athanasiou, Domi will have lots of offensive mentors on the Knights this season, and he should be able to learn a lot from them. Max has been a factor in nearly every game he’s played in the OHL, and he’s been earning plenty of playing time on the penalty kill and powerplay. Even though he plays a very different style than his father, Max is still making Tie proud, and he’s certainly making London very happy they traded for him.

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