Canadiens impressed with how Max Domi handles his Type 1 diabetes

“I think people are going to learn a lot more from his book, I’m sure,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien says.

The Canadiens’ Max Domi has a new book coming out Tuesday titled No Days Off: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes and Journey to the NHL.

Domi was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when he was 12 and his first words to the doctor after that were: “Can I still play hockey?”

“Of course you can!” the doctor responded. “Do you know who Bobby Clarke is?”

Clarke was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when he was 13 and went on to play 15 seasons in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s. Clarke became Domi’s inspiration that he could still make it to the NHL and the Hall of Famer also inspired him to write the book, which Domi hopes can help other people dealing with Type 1 diabetes with the lessons he has learned from his own experiences.

Domi has to test his blood up to 15 times a day, including before he goes to sleep, when he wakes up, before every meal, two hours after every meal, before exercise and every 20-30 minutes while exercising. He also has a Diabetic Alert Dog named Orion. The 6-year-old yellow lab is trained to detect when Domi’s blood sugar level is out of normal range because his saliva will have a different scent. Orion will wake Domi up during the night if his blood sugar level gets too high or low.

Domi must follow a strict game-day routine that includes testing his blood between periods and again after the game. If needed, he will inject himself with insulin or have a snack to adjust his levels. His game-day routine becomes more challenging on the road, where he makes sure to have some juice and a snack on his bedside table and the Canadiens’ training staff always stays on the same hotel floor as him in case something goes wrong during the night and they need to arrive quickly.

Last Saturday night, Domi played in his 208th consecutive game when the Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple 5-2 at the Bell Centre. It’s the longest current ironman streak on the Canadiens.

“I think people are going to learn a lot more from his book, I’m sure,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said after practice Monday in Brossard. “Because I know what he goes through and how disciplined he’s got to be in order to perform at this level and perform the way he’s performing. I know people know he’s got to do things differently and sacrifice, but I don’t think they know to what extent he sacrifices things in order to be in tip-top shape and able to play with the kind of energy he does on a nightly basis. So it’s pretty impressive from a young man like him.

“I know that Bobby Clarke is one of his idols,” Julien added. “That’s not to take anything away from anybody, but in today’s game more than ever you have to show up in training camp in shape. You don’t get a chance to get in shape. So he’s got to stay on top all the time. We know the game’s gotten even quicker and demands even more energy than before, so that’s where he again deserves a lot of credit for doing what he’s doing right now and I’m happy that he’s also proud to share his story and try and help others.”

Teammate Brendan Gallagher said it’s “pretty impressive” to see what Domi goes through on a daily basis in order to play in the NHL.

“You see how he handles it, you see how he manages it,” Gallagher said. “He’s obviously dealt with it his whole life. He knows what he’s doing. But it would add a lot of complications to all our lives and he seems to make it effortless and it doesn’t really affect anything that he does on the ice. He checks (his blood) between periods. He’s got to do it on the plane. He’s always managing it. He does an unbelievable job of not really letting it distract him or take away from what he’s doing on the ice.”

To make things even more complicated for Domi, he also has celiac disease and has hired a personal chef to do all his cooking at home without gluten.

“Max is one of the most dedicated guys off the ice I’ve probably played with,” said teammate Ben Chiarot, who signed with the Canadiens as a free agent this summer after spending the previous five seasons in Winnipeg. “Him and (the Jets’) Mark Scheifele are actually pretty similar that way. Max covers all his bases as far as off-the-ice nutrition and recovery and training and treatment. Everything he can possibly do to be a better player, he does it. On top of that, he’s got to deal with two autoimmune diseases. which is rare for the league. It’s impressive what he does on a day-to-day basis and he does it all well, dealing with two diseases that he’s had for his whole life, basically.”

Teammate Phillip Danault can’t imagine going through what Domi does every day.

“It’s a different level that I haven’t been through in my life,” Danault said. “I think it’s impressive that he can play with that. He’s got to be on time every time taking his blood and everything.

“It’s a life challenge, I guess,” Danault added. “I can’t imagine that. It’s courageous for him. I’m sure he’s lucky to play in the NHL with that and he’s embracing the fact that he’s playing here. I’m impressed by that, for sure.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Comments are closed here.