Making a name for himself with the Canadiens, who are off to a surprising 4-1-1 start, with a goal and four assists in first six games.
STU COWAN, MONTREAL GAZETTE
Growing up as the son of an NHL player definitely has its perks.
Like getting to practise faceoffs as a kid in a hotel lobby with Mark Messier.
“Not many people can say they’ve done that,” Max Domi said with a smile after the Canadiens practised Thursday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
Or when you’re a youngster playing in minor-hockey playoffs and having problems winning faceoffs against your main opponent, so your father calls Doug Gilmour, who shows up before one of your games to give you tips in the locker room and you don’t lose another draw the rest of the series.
Or those times when you got to skate on a fresh sheet of ice at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, all alone with a bucket full of pucks, dumping them out and firing shots off the glass and then trying to hit the crossbar so you could hear the loud “ping!” ring through the empty arena.
Growing up as Tie Domi’s son had some pretty cool benefits, but it could also be a burden — as it is for the son of any famous father. A young boy can become known only as “so-and-so’s kid” instead of by their own name.
Max Domi is making a name for himself with the Canadiens, who are off to a surprising 4-1-1 start heading into Saturday’s game in Ottawa (7 p.m., CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio), with a goal and four assists in his first six games since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk.
Domi said being the son of an NHLer in a big market like Toronto — where Tie spent most of his career with the Maple Leafs — made him mature quicker than other kids and he got to understand life a bit better. The 23-year-old definitely comes across as an intelligent, well-spoken young man in his dealings with the media — much more mature than Galchenyuk, who has yet to play a game with the Coyotes because of a lower-body injury suffered during the pre-season.
As a hockey player, Domi’s father didn’t care if his son scored three goals in a game if he had also turned the puck over too many times, taken a bad penalty or — worse — didn’t work hard enough.
“Goals are great, but that stuff doesn’t mean anything if you’re not doing what’s right for the team all the time and he really instilled that in me,” Domi said about his dad.
Tie Domi at #Habs practice this morning in Brossard #HabsIO pic.twitter.com/hTPe2FjsWV
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) October 18, 2018
Domi’s father is spending some time in Montreal with his son this week and was at practice Thursday in Brossard. He was also in the car with Domi for the drive to the Bell Centre before Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues, which brought back childhood memories for Domi.
“It almost turns into background noise when he’s just talking …: ‘Make sure to keep your shifts short,’ ” Domi said with a smile. “He didn’t say much for the first five minutes and it’s like a 10-minute drive. So the second five, I don’t think he even realized he was talking. You watch him and it almost feels like he’s getting ready for the game. ‘Short shifts, keep it simple, chip pucks in, be sharp, be good on faceoffs, blah, blah, blah … make sure you’re going hard and simple plays and shoot the puck.’ All that stuff. Things he’s been telling me since I was a little kid.”
The sight of Domi’s father at practice brought back memories of the constant presence of Galchenyuk’s father when he was with the Canadiens, which became a problem. You hope this wasn’t a package deal with one player and his father dealt in exchange for another player and his father.
“He never says anything that would ever go against anything a coach would ever tell me,” Domi said about his dad. “It’s more or less the same exact thing. But it’s been the same thing for my whole life … it’s like on repeat. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s a big reason why I’m where I am today.
“The No. 1 thing I learned from him is just to show up every day and with a smile on your face, work hard and have fun,” Domi added. “I mean it sounds cliché again, but he just really instilled that in me. He said: ‘You work hard no matter what’s going on, everything else will take care of itself.’ It’s true and it’s gone a long way.”
When Tie Domi chatted with the media before Thursday’s practice, he was asked if he had any Canadiens jerseys yet.
“I got a lot of them,” he said.
Will he wear them?
“I will,” the former Maple Leaf said.
There’s already a “Domi” on the back of a Canadiens sweater with No. 13 and it’s looking pretty good. The only other name that should really be associated with that sweater is Max.
He’s not just “so-and-so’s kid.”