Twenty-four years ago, the Memorial Cup was held in Saskatoon and included 19-year-old enforcer and Maple Leaf draftee Tie Domi of the Peterborough Petes, who spent most of his time riding shotgun for star centre Mike Ricci. Starting Friday night, the Memorial Cup, now attached to a major sponsor in Mastercard, is again being held in Saskatoon and, lo and behold, the next generation of the Domi clan will be at centre stage. Just like his dad back in 1989, Max Domi of the London Knights will be a prominent performer over the next 10 days in a star-studded tournament featuring a glittering array of NHL-bound talent, including the three players expected to go one, two and three in the June entry draft. Domi, in case you’ve never seen him play, is nothing like his father on the ice. Tie Domi fought his way out of Belle River, Ont., to the NHL and ultimately became one of the most popular Leafs in the past 25 years. Max, by contrast, is a marvellously skilled centre who also plays the wing and led the Ontario Hockey League champions in scoring this season. Stocky and well under 6 feet in height like his father, Max Domi is, really, the kind of player Tie spent years in the NHL “protecting,” if you believe in the role of designated policemen. Max is rated by NHL Central Scouting to possibly go in the second half of the draft’s first round, or could even slip into the second if there’s a run on Europeans or goalies. On the other hand, there are whispers some clubs see him as a top 10 pick. That’s where this gets interesting. During his last years in Toronto, Tie Domi, as politically savvy during his career as any NHLer, became friends with Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. When the Pat Quinn years were winding down, many criticized that relationship, suggesting it gave Domi a special status on the team. Well, Tanenbaum is still chairman, albeit in a somewhat altered atmosphere at MLSE with Rogers and Bell now sharing majority ownership of the Leafs, Raptors and the rest of the MLSE empire. The Leafs currently hold the No. 21 pick in the draft, and Max Domi, depending on how the dominoes fall, could be available when GM Dave Nonis and chief scout Dave Morrison come to choose in Newark on June 30. Might Tanenbaum see fit to influence the Leaf choice? Or are those days long gone? This isn’t to suggest Max Domi would be a poor pick for the Leafs, although playing for the same team as his father did might come with unwelcome attention. That said, if Halifax Mooseheads goalie Zachary Fucale, 6-foot-5 Rimouski centre Frederik Gauthier or even Domi’s London teammate, 6-foot-5 blueliner Nikita Zadorov, are there when Toronto goes to draft and Domi is still available, might they fit the Leafs’ needs more than another smallish forward? Or what about bruising Windsor power forward Kerby Rychel, son of another ex-Leaf, Warren Rychel? One really can’t imagine Tanenbaum would interject his opinions into a process like the entry draft. Tie Domi, other than being an alumni, has no official capacity with the Leafs.
Would Maple Leafs pick Max Domi in first round of NHL draft?
Toronto Star | May 16