RANDY SPORTAK, CALGARY SUN
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The pundits predicted a bottoming out for the Arizona Coyotes this season.Coyotes rookies Maxi Domi (bottom) and Anthony Duclair (top) are making a difference for the NHL club this season. Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP
They’re proving ’em wrong so far, and a big reason is the youth infusion, notably from Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.
Don’t kids have any respect for their elders these days?
“To be honest, I don’t read anything you guys say for the most part,” Domi said with a chuckle just before dropping the puck to face the Calgary Flames on Friday night. “That’s something my dad taught me from a young age. At the end of the day, it comes down to what our group wants to do, and we should be able to do it.”
His dad, if you didn’t know, is former NHLer Tie, who’s currently making the rounds with his successful memoir Shift Work. That book has its share of stories about his son, who’s having an exceptional start to his career — including an assist on the overtime winner against the Flames — with eight goals and 19 points in his rookie season.
“It’s pretty cool,” Domi, 20, said of having his childhood made public, including a tale of Michael Jordan holding him in his arms while very young. “There’s a lot of stories to be told that not every kid gets to share. I’m pretty lucky and pretty blessed to have a dad that knew all the people he did and had all the experiences he did.”
But as much the younger Domi has had eyes on him his whole life for being the son of a NHLer, he’s carving out his own game. While Tie Domi racked up 3,515 penalty minutes over his 1,020 games, Max’s strength revolves around his skill.
“Very impressive. Very impressive,” Flames head coach Bob Hartley said of Domi. “He hangs on to the puck. He’s showing the poise of a veteran with that puck. He’s very opportunistic, very creative and very strong on the puck, and I think with Duclair, they complement themselves very well.”
And the duo has ignited a Coyotes team that finished at the bottom of the NHL’s Western Conference and 29th overall last season but is surprisingly in the playoff fight with more than one-quarter of the season in the books.
“All the new guys have given us new energy,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. “Our theme going into the year was we had to grow the organization, and the way to do that is all the young players have to play.”
“I’m not my dad, but … he played 17 years in the NHL, and you’ve got to be doing something right to play that long and to have that career,” said Domi, whose mother, Leanne, was a track athlete and ran the New York Marathon.
Domi wears No. 16 for the Coyotes because of Bobby Clarke, who is diabetic like him.
“He worked hard, and he didn’t get enough credit for how much skill he actually had,” added Domi of Clarke. “I’d never tell that to his face, but he’s a good hockey player, and I take a lot from that.”
“I was more of a Mats Sundin fan, but I learned a lot from my dad.”