Max Domi was in high school when Patrick Kane’s received a pass from Brian Campbell, beat Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen 1-on-1, and shot the puck through Flyers goalie Michael Leighton’s five-hole to give Chicago its first Stanley Cup Championship since 1961. Some 12 years later, Domi gets to wear a Blackhawks sweater and skate with two legends that he idolized growing up, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
In his first meeting with the Chicago media this morning, Domi told reporters that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were two of his favorite players and that he loved the Blackhawks when they were collecting Stanley Cups throughout his teenage years.
“Growing up as a kid, I’m not that young anymore, but I was young enough to watch the Hawks when they were winning all of their Stanley Cups in my era with Kaner and Tazer. So, to be able to see that as a kid and now get the chance to wear the sweater with those guys is pretty special.”
Domi is no stranger to the NHL game, his father Tie played 16 seasons in the NHL, and Domi himself is entering his eighth season in the NHL. Still, he gushed about the chance to move to Chicago and play with Kane, whom he called the greatest American-born player ever, and Toews, whom he put on a pedestal with Sidney Crosby as the heroes of young Canadian hockey players of his era.
“I’m super happy to be in Chicago. Like I said earlier, [they were] one of my favorite teams growing up. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were two of my favorite players growing up. You look at probably the best American player of all time already [in Kane], and then you have Johnny Toews, and as a Canadian boy, it’s him, and Sid [Sidney Crosby] were the two guys you looked up to. So, the chance to play with those two guys, to wear that jersey, and play for Luke [Richardson] are the biggest reasons why I chose Chicago, and I’m super happy with my decision, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Domi will get to live that dream of playing with Kane and Toews out this season and likely be linemates with one or both of them at some point. For how long he’ll get to live that dream out, who knows at this point? Jonathan Toews isn’t thrilled with the current situation in Chicago, and Patrick Kane’s camp has been mum since the draft.
As for Domi, he’s here on a one-year deal, and while he knows that the Blackhawks are in the infancy of their rebuild, he wouldn’t mind being in Chicago for a long time.
“That’s the tough part of the business, right? Contracts can be one year, or they can be seven years. In this case, it’s one year, and I’m just focused on getting there for training camp, and I’m super excited to meet all the guys and get down to Chicago and check out the city. But I personally hope it works out, and I’m there for a long, long time. Obviously, I do understand that it is a business, and they are trying to do certain things, but all you can do is try to be a pro every single day and try to bring your best to the rink, be the best teammate you can be, and that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m super excited about it.”
Aside from getting to wear a Blackhawks sweater and play alongside Kane and Toews, Domi is reunited with former teammates Connor Murphy and Seth Jones and former coach Luke Richardson whom he played under for two seasons while Richardson was an assistant under Claude Julien’s staff in Montreal.
Domi played with Seth Jones for one season in Columbus and called him one of the hardest working players in hockey and a heck of a teammate to have, and Domi played with Connor Murphy in Arizona for two seasons (2015-2017). Despite their on-ice fight last season, Domi insists that Murphy is one of his best friends, and he and Murphy have already hung out in Chicago with Jonathan Toews since he Domi signed with the Blackhawks earlier this month.
“Murph and I are actually really good buddies, he was one of my best friends in Arizona, and he knows sometimes when my switch goes like that, it doesn’t matter who it is, just the reality of the game, but we had a good chuckle about it. I actually saw him, I was down in Chicago last week for the day, and I had a chance to chat with him and Jonathan Toews, so that was super cool, and me and Murph are pumped to play together again. I love him to death, and he’s a heck of a hockey player but an even better guy.”
Still, it was Luke Richardson who sealed the deal for Domi’s desire to come to a tanking Blackhawks team this season, and that can’t be underscored enough.
“To be honest with you, as soon as you guys hired Luke Richardson as your head coach, I called my agent, and I said, ‘hey, I want to go to Chicago.”
Domi explained why playing for Luke Richardson in Chicago was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up:
“He’s probably one of the nicest, humble, common guys to talk to that I’ve ever met in the hockey,” Domi said. “He’s played a long time and had a lot of success as a player and coach. You ask anyone in that D-core in Montreal, Shea Weber included, Carey Price, they all loved him, and it’s not by mistake that he got a head coaching job with an original six organization.
“Luke is one of those guys you’re excited to go to battle for every night; you’re excited to learn from; he’s the kind of guy that shows so much respect to his players, which obviously is great from our perspective, and you want to work for a guy like that. He’s an absolute machine off the ice, in the gym, and even on the ice; you’ll see him doing some bag skates and some skating things with us after practice and whatnot if you were injured or whatever it might have been. That’s the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with, and he’s one of those guys that leads by example, and I’ve never met anyone that had a bad word to say about Luke inside or outside of the game.”
This is so critical to the success of the Blackhawks’ rebuild for two reasons:
1) The respect that Richardson shows his players, the example he sets, and the work ethic that he instills will all be critical components in the development of the waves of young Blackhawks prospects that will be under his tutelage in Chicago.
2) When the time comes for the Blackhawks to dip their toes back into the deep end of the free agency pool and add big-time talent that can be the finishing touches on the eventual roster, like, say, a Marian Hossa-type signing, having a head coach that is respected by players around the NHL that will want to come to play for him is a huge bargaining tool for Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks.
As for Domi himself, he’s just looking to put what he called a “crazy couple of years” behind him and get back to playing hockey at the level he knows he can with the Blackhawks, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so in a top-six role this season.