Tie Domi was a regular fixture on the Toronto Maple Leafs for 12 seasons
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I recently wrote a short piece in appreciation of former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle. Overall, the piece was well received, but the strangest thing kept appearing in the comments section: criticisms of Tie Domi. Some fans, it seems, feel the need to bash Domi in support of Kaberle (I don’t get it).
When it comes to hockey, I’m not the biggest fan of fights. They serve a purpose and can raise the intensity of a game at the right moment; however, I’d really just rather watch a fast-paced hockey game if given the choice.
This might lead you to assume that I’m not a huge fan of Domi, but I think it’s wrong to characterize and limit him to the role of a fighter. In my view, he’s one of the greatest “energy” players to ever wear the Blue & White – someone who hit the ice full of emotion and determination every shift. He was a true “difference maker” on the team and I put him in the same cast of characters as Wendel Clark, Darcy Tucker and Tiger Williams (without saying they’re all equal, of course).
If you look at Domi’s record, the first thing that catches the eye are all the penalty minutes: 3,515 in total over a 16-year career. He finished his career as the all-time penalty minutes leader for the Leafs – an impressive feat when you consider some of the former “meat heads” who played for the Leafs – and third all-time in penalty minutes for the entire league (Williams, one of those aforementioned “meat heads”, owns this record with 3,966 penalty minutes across 14 seasons).
It’s easy to look at all of these penalty minutes and lose sight of Domi’s offensive numbers, especially towards the end of his career. He would finish his career with 245 points (104 goals, 141 assists) in 1,020 regular season games, including a career-best 15 goals in 2002-2003. That Domi worked hard to evolve his game over time and find new ways to contribute deserves acknowledgement; he wasn’t a one-dimensional player as some people claim.
Editor In Leaf
Like Kaberle, Domi was ushered out of Toronto in an unceremonious fashion. He retired as a free agent on September 19, 2006 after the Leafs bought out the final year of his contract. A new era of hockey was upon us and this put an end to Domi’s relevance on the ice we were told.
No one can deny that the game of hockey has changed since the 2004-2005 lockout. You simply don’t see many players like Domi anymore – players who put physicality and aggressive attitude before skill. I won’t say if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I will say this: whether he was battling for the puck against Eric Lindros or Paul Kariya, Domi was the type of player who almost always came out on top.
Domi showed us that there’s more to the great game of hockey than skill or luck. A truly great player wants to play the game and works towards that goal every day. This is what separated Domi from so many of the other “goons” in the league during his time.
What are your thoughts on the controversial winger? Was he a valuable member of the team or just an over-glorified goon? Did he pose a real and unacceptable danger to other players in the league or was he there to check egos in check? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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