SCOTT LEWIS – Sportsnet.ca
With eight goals and 16 points in his first 18 National Hockey League games, Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi is an early candidate to take home the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year.
Domi’s speed and skill make him an electric presence on the ice. He’s become quite a presence off the ice, too, thanks to his affable demeanour and often lively approach to dealing with media.
Max practically grew up in NHL arenas, perhaps most notably the Air Canada Centre in Toronto where his father Tie Domi played home games in seven of his 11 seasons with the Maple Leafs. Max joined Hockey Central at Noon as a guest Tuesday to discuss his season with the Coyotes and the thrill of playing at the ACC for the first time as an NHL player.
Domi’s Coyotes bested the Maple Leafs 4-3 on October 26, with the 20-year-old opening the scoring.
“For me playing in Toronto at the ACC was a dream come true for sure,” Domi said. “Obviously to beat the Leafs, too, makes it that much sweeter.”
The discussion turned to the impact of growing up around some competitive Maple Leafs teams had on Domi’s own development as a hockey player.
“Honestly, just being around the room and seeing how guys prepare and what they do before games, after games, before practice, after practice, how hard they work on the ice…it all goes into it. It’s how you become a pro,” said Domi.
If you had Hockey Central co-host Nick Kypreos in the “who influenced Max Domi en route to his own professional career” pool then you’re one of the lucky winners.
“It’s just something I’ve look forward to my whole life. It’s amazing, the people I was lucky enough to meet. Guys like yourself, Kyper, and Mats. It was pretty cool. I’m still in constant contact with a lot of the guys. It’s great to get feedback.”
What’s the benefit of a young child spending time around an NHL dressing room without picking up a few keepsakes along the way? Domi was asked how much gear he may have stolen from the Maple Leafs.
“Oh, tape, gum, laces…I stole a lot,” he said. “I’d just go to the rink when nobody was there. My dad would give me a big Leafs bag, a big plastic bag, and I would just literally fill it up with as much as I could. As I got more comfortable doing it my dad was like ‘OK relax a little bit, you’re getting a little too out of hand [laughter].'”
The current Maple Leafs roster would likely prefer Domi stuck to stealing tape and laces rather than points in the standings.