He looks like a chip off the old block. Max Domi is his own man on the ice, however, The son of former Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi, Max uses his hands to score or set up goals rather than administer justice. His offensive creativity convinced the Phoenix Coyotes to take the 18-year-old from Toronto 12th overall in Sunday’s NHL draft.
“He was pretty pumped,” Max said of his father’s reaction to going in the first round. “He’s an emotional guy, obviously. He’s very happy. He had a long, successful career in the NHL and he wants nothing less for me.”
Tie Domi was a second-round pick of Toronto’s, going 27th overall in 1988. He played two games for the Leafs before spending six season with the Rangers and Jets. In 1994, he returned to Toronto where he spent his last 11 seasons as a Maple Leaf.
He finished with 104 goals, 141 assists and 3,515 penalty minutes in 1,020 NHL games.
In contrast, Max tied for eighth in regular-season scoring with 87 points (39 goals and 48 assists) and was a plus-33 in 64 games this season for the London Knights. He also had 71 penalty minutes.
“A natural goal-scorer, everywhere he’s been,” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. “Max has a finishing touch. And that can separate him from a lot of players. A lot of players can get chances from their abilities and their smarts but can they finish? Max can finish.
“He’s not the biggest guy but he certainly plays bigger than his size. It doesn’t influence or impact his game one way or another. And he’s like Brett Hull, he’s smart, he knows how to get open and he’s ready to take the shot.”
The five-foot-nine, 197-pound forward can also play provider as he showed in the Memorial Cup, feathering a pass between his legs to set up Bo Horvat (who went ninth overall Sunday to Vancouver).
The younger Domi is just as poised off the ice, handling questions about his famous father with ease.
Is it tough having Domi as a last name, he was asked.
“No, not at all. It’s part of who I am and I can’t change who my Dad is, obviously. I’ve just got to use it as an advantage. Obviously some guys are going to kind of go after you a little bit more but in the end, like I said, you can’t really change that ... I’ve got to be around some pretty cool people along the way. It’s been a roller-coaster but it’s helped a lot.”
He calls his father his No. 1 fan.
“He’s a big reason for me being what I am today. On and off the ice, he’s a first-class guy. He played a long and successful career in the NHL. He didn’t do the easiest job, but he found a way to do it. He was a great teammate every day ... I definitely take a lot of notes from him.”
Max was a member of Canada’s gold medal team at the 2012 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
This season, he was second in playoff scoring with 32 points (11-21) in 21 games.
“Yeah, I was lucky,” he said, shrugging off a compliment.
A Type-1 diabetic and celiac, Domi changed his number from No. 13 to No. 16 after his diagnosis in honour of Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke, who overcame diabetes to play in the NHL.