One day, your career is going nowhere. You’re playing hockey in a market where you might see a reporter at a practice, or maybe not. You’re packing your stuff to go to the rink wearing shorts and a t-shirt. You’re making plans to have a BBQ on Sunday by the pool… in the midst of hockey season. Whether you score a goal or drag your feet, only your employer notices and even then, looking at the Arizona Coyotes’ track record since relocating from Winnipeg, it’s like even they don’t care. Then you get a phone call: “We have traded you to the highest pressured hockey market in the word… Montreal.”
For some, they would crack under pressure, particularly after two underwhelming seasons. For others, like Max Domi, it’s a blessing. Growing up around the NHL watching his legendary father Tie, little Max knows what hockey markets are all about. After all, Toronto is very much like Montreal in that aspect. As a matter of fact, since his number 16 is retired by the Canadiens in honor of the great Henri Richard, Domi picked number 13 in honor of his favourite player: Mats Sundin.
“That’s 100% why I’m wearing #13. It’s a little bit weird to see 13 with the last name Domi on the back of a Habs jersey. But I don’t really care, I think it looks great. It’s a great number. I wore it my whole childhood.” ~ Max Domi
While it may have felt weird for a little while, seeing number 13 with the name “Domi” in the back on a Habs’ uniform is now sinking in nicely in Montreal. Back in June, I was telling you that it wouldn’t be long before Max would become a fan favourite and guess what? He already is. But why is that? When the trade was announced, there was yet another outpoor of negative comments from reporters and fans alike. Granted, many were the same who still can’t get over the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber trade, but still.
Then, when Domi sucker-punched Aaron Ekblad and was suspended for the rest of pres-season, those same “fans” were all over him (and the organisation). It’s what I like to refer to as the Montreal Chicken Little Syndrome. Everything happening around the Habs is overblown, whether it be positive or, more often than not, negative.
Yet, Domi did bring a new ATTITUDE. As fans are now noticing, Marc Bergevin knew exactly what he was doing. He brought in a Brendan Gallagher – who ironically is now best friend with Max – but with even more skills. He did not sacrifice talent for work ethics. He went out and got talent WITH work ethics.
“I haven’t been able to stop smiling the whole time. Some people might not want to play in a market like this, other people might want to, other people might not care. I definitely am truly excited to be here and I want to be here, and I’m hoping that this brings out the best in me. and, you know what, excited to step into a team that’s got a lot of great hockey players on it already.” ~ Max Domi
Max Domi has arguably been the Canadiens’ best and most consistent performer since the start of the season. After 13 games so far this season, he leads the team in points (7 goals, 13 points) and unlike Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin, he has stepped into the centre position flawlessly.
— 📰 J.D. Lagrange 🎙 (@Habsterix) November 2, 2018
Domi is a quality individual, a quality player, who was suffocating in an organisation with no directions, in a market that didn’t care about hockey. He now finds himself in a market with pressure and he is responding beautifully. Oh there will be hiccups folks, rest assured. But you have guys who will succumb to pressure and others, like him, like Gallagher, like Shaw, who have a reputation of using that pressure to up the ante, their game. And he’s only 23 years old.
And just to stick it to Leafs’ fans, here’s a quote that will sure sting more than one, when Tie discussed how it feels to see his son play for the Habs. Go Habs Go!
“It was actually emotional because I was happy for him — original six. It’s a historical franchise. I grew up idolizing Guy Lafleur and the Montreal Canadiens and the winning tradition. I played for Toronto, but Montreal was always my team as a kid, and Guy was always my favourite player.” ~ Tie Domi