Max Domi Excited for His Opportunity with Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks

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Max Domi Excited for His Opportunity with Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks

One of the big questions coming into training camp was who will be Patrick Kane’s center to start the season.

We saw glimpses of an option when the veterans were skating before the prospects during the showcase games. And then new head coach Luke Richardson confirmed he was going to be a thing.

Max Domi’s getting the top spot to begin the new year.

“They obviously have skill sets that can play off each other,” Luke Richardson said on Saturday. “Patrick can probably play with anybody in the league, but Max is a very skilled guy. I just want to make sure I keep reminding him to use his speed and not slow down and try to make cute passes back and forth with Patrick. We need to play forward fast, and he’s been great. In the controlled scrimmage today, defensively, he was really good, too. That’s going to be key because we want the puck back quicker, and especially if you play with a guy like Patrick, you want to have the puck as much as possible and not waste our energy chasing around the other team.

If this is an important season for the prospects in Chicago, it’s an equally significant season for Domi. He signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks, presumably to raise his stock and be an affordable option for a contender at the deadline. But Domi has said all along that he likes the fit in Chicago, coveted playing for Richardson and would like to be here for more than one year.

Domi has said all the right things since being introduced to the Chicago media earlier this summer, including being “best buds” with veteran defenseman Connor Murphy. He’s also talked about his growing relationship with Kane and Jonathan Toews after hooking up with the Blackhawks leaders this summer. When he was introduced to the Chicago media earlier this year, he said the Richardson hiring put Chicago at the top of his list.

Despite playing a wing role for Carolina in the playoffs last year — a role which Richardson said he believed Domi played very well — Domi’s speed and ability to move the puck made him an attractive option centering Kane’s line.

When I asked Domi how he felt about the opportunity to center Kane’s line to start the season, he was as excited as you would expect.

“It’s exciting, for sure,” he said. “Playing the middle is great; you have the puck more, and with a guy like Kaner, you want to be able to distribute the puck in the middle of the ice. It’s awesome; I’m really looking forward to both opportunities.”

Domi also said that Kane and Toews have been doing a great job of making the new guys – both young and experienced – feel right at home in the Chicago locker room, something that Luke Richardson has expressed as something he wants and expects his two loudest voices in the room to do.

“It’s exciting to spend some time with him [Kane] and Johnny [Toews] and pick their brains and really settle in and get comfortable,” Domi said. “All the guys that have been here for a while have been very helpful, from Pat to Johnny to Murph, and the list goes on.”

When it comes to making his line with Patrick Kane work, Domi acknowledged something that Luke Richardson has made a focal point in practice, and that’s the wherewithal to know when to shoot the puck. Domi admitted that will be an adjustment for him, a career-long pass-first forward with 213 assists to his 101 goals.

“I do like to pass the puck a little bit, so learning to be more of a shooter is something that I’m going to have to do. I think it’s just an awareness, for sure. Obviously, playing with a guy that has an IQ like Kaner, you just gotta kind of play off of him and get open and try to be the trigger man. At the same time, trust your instincts and make the plays you see. He’s a great player, but he expects you to play your game as well. I think that’s something that we’ll continue to build on and work on. I’m really excited about that.”

Kane echoed Domi’s confidence and excitement in the pairing when he was asked about the new line-mate this week.

“I know from playing against him and talking to him he’s very competitive. He wants to do well. I feel like those are kind of guys I do well with, that want to do well every night, and he’s had some great seasons in the League. He’s played with some good players, and I think he has that fire and energy that he wants to do well with him. I’m excited to play with him.”

Kane said that Domi – whom he is one stall over from in the Blackhawks dressing room – and he have spent some time together this summer, meeting up at the US Open and media night in New York. Kane says the week they’ve spent working together at camp has been a seamless transition.

How long Domi — or Kane, for that matter — will be in Chicago is a question many will ask until we get a definitive answer. Everyone in the building has consistently denied any trade talks involving Kane this summer, despite reports to the contrary. And everyone in the Blackhawks organization is outwardly focused on the season ahead.

Still, for whatever time they’re together this season, Domi says the excitement level is pretty high in the dressing room.

“We’re super happy to be here, we’ve got a great group of guys working hard every single day, and as far as we’re concerned, we’re here to win hockey games. Take it game by game, day by day, and let the rest take care of itself.”


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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.