“Living in Scottsdale is arguably one of the best places to live in the world,” he says. “I’d be the first person to admit that.”
STU COWAN, MONTREAL GAZETTE
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona isn’t heaven, but on a glorious December day with the temperature reaching a high of 25 Celsius, it felt like you could see it.
It certainly didn’t feel like hockey weather, but it was gorgeous with the sunshine, palm trees and water fountains in the plaza outside the Gila River Arena.
This is the life Max Domi left behind when the Arizona Coyotes traded him to the Canadiens last summer in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk.
“I don’t have as many pairs of shorts,” Domi said with a smile Thursday morning when asked how his life has changed since the trade. “It’s totally different. It’s just a different lifestyle. Out here … living in Scottsdale is arguably one of the best places to live in the world. I’d be the first person to admit that. The food, the people here, the weather, everything is just really second to none. And then you get to play hockey here, too. So, it’s like: Oh, geez, like how can you beat that? But on the other hand you got Montreal, which is the hockey hotbed of the world, and as a kid growing up in another hotbed, in Toronto, it’s definitely a dream come true for me to be able to experience both sides of the spectrum. They both have a lot of positives and I’m very thankful I’ve been able to kind of take part in both markets.”
Domi misses being able to go to practice in shorts and flip-flops in Arizona, but also loves everything about playing for the Canadiens. It has shown on the ice, with Domi leading the team in scoring with 14-19-33 totals in 35 games before facing his former team for the first time Thursday night.
When asked what he has enjoyed most about playing with the Canadiens, Domi said: “There’s so many … I wouldn’t be able to pick one or put my finger on one of them. I think for me personally, though, just wearing that jersey every game and being able to step out on the ice in the Bell Centre at home in front of that fan base and the music playing and getting ready to go. And the history that comes with putting that jersey on is pretty surreal. So I think just really everything in general of wearing that jersey is just something that’s a huge privilege and something I definitely don’t take for granted and I’m really enjoying every second of it.”
Domi said it was “really weird” and “bizarre” when the Canadiens arrived at their hotel beside the Gila River Arena in the early-morning hours Thursday following Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Avalanche in Colorado. When Domi showed up at the rink about eight hours later, he admitted turning the wrong way to go to the Coyotes’ locker room.
“It will be fun,” he said about facing his former team. “I’m really looking forward to this experience. I miss it here, for sure. That being said, I’m happy with how things ended up, obviously. But a lot of good memories here, so it’s going to be something special.”
Asked if he was looking to prove the Coyotes were wrong to trade him, Domi said: “That has nothing to do with it. The emotions would come from just, obviously, going through a lot in moving and starting my career here and kind of making the friends that I made here. That’s the emotional part. Everything else, that’s part of the business, right. I’m not going to really get caught up in that. I think it worked out well for both sides.”
Domi described it as a “foreign feeling” to get traded for the first time from the team that selected him 12th overall at the 2013 NHL Draft.
“I wasn’t sure how I’d kind of get through it,” he said. “I was lucky enough to get out of the gates doing all right and with some good linemates and the team was having some success. So it made the transition much easier for me. I’m more than thrilled to be part of Montreal and represent that jersey and that logo. I’m really excited about it. That being said, I’m thankful for everyone in Arizona with what they did for me. I’m just kinda happy everything worked out.
“The whole shorts and flip-flops to a hockey morning skate is something that felt weird,” he added about his early days in Arizona. “But that was like the norm to me. Now, wearing boots and a coat is a little weird to me, so I’m still getting used to that. Arizona is really, truly just an unbelievable place to live and to play. There’s so much potential here and I know they’re working on their side of things to make it an even better place to play. I do know that the future is bright here and I wish them nothing but the best.”