Following in the footsteps of a father considered by many to be one of the NHL's toughest players never has been that big a deal in the eyes of London Knights forward Max Domi.
The biggest obstacle for the 5-foot-9.25, 193-pound Domi? Coping with Type 1 diabetes in an attempt to play the sport he loves.
"It's not the easiest thing to handle, but as you go on with it and gain experience, it gets easier," Domi told NHL.com. "You just have to embrace it and kind of take it head-on. You can't look at it as adversity. It's something you can't change, so you kind of use it in order to better yourself as a person."
Domi, the son of retired NHL forward Tie Domi, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes several years ago. He wears an insulin pump attached to his hip during games and team doctors and general manager Mark Hunter have helped monitor his blood glucose levels on the bench.
During intermission, Domi usually is gulping down sandwiches or drinking Gatorade in an attempt to maintain a proper glucose count.
"On the ice, it makes you more responsible and I have to take care of my body a lot more," Domi said. "For me, it's for the better, and it helps me out a lot."
Domi wears No. 16 as a tribute to former Philadelphia Flyers captain Bobby Clarke, who played with Type 1 diabetes during his 15 seasons in the League.
As an OHL rookie last season, Domi also received great advice and guidance from roommate Jared Knight, who also is diabetic. Knight was a 2010 second-round draft pick (No. 32) of the Boston Bruins.
"He's one of the hardest workers I know," Domi said of Knight. "As a rookie, and not really sure what to do or how to handle myself, having [Knight] there was awesome. He's probably one of the most influential people I've ever met in terms of hockey. I don't know what I would have done without him last year."
Domi, who turned 18 on March 2, certainly felt right at home in his first OHL season in 2011-12, totaling 21 goals, 49 points and a plus-13 rating for the Knights.
This season he's No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of draft-eligible skaters, and NHL.com's draft experts had Domi going 17th in two mock drafts, and 19th in another.
Many scouts feel the young Domi is the complete opposite of his father, who spent 16 seasons in the League with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. He's third all-time in League history with 3,515 penalty minutes, including a club-record 2,265 in 11 seasons with the Maple Leafs.
"He played 17 years in the NHL so he was doing something right, and he's probably one of the hardest workers I've ever met," Max said. "I kind of take bits and pieces of what he did in his career and implement them into mine, hoping for the best."
The results have been encouraging, particularly this season, as Domi has become a marked man for a London team that strung together 25 straight wins from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. During that franchise-record winning streak, Domi had 14 goals, 28 points and a plus-11 rating.
"The thing he does have from dad is that he plays with grit and is unafraid," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "I haven't seen any signs that would indicate that Max won't continue to develop. He's got the pedigree to play as a pro athlete, and in my eyes is a legitimate first-round candidate."
Domi was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs with the eighth pick of the 2011 OHL draft, but on Aug. 30 of that year was traded by general manager Doug Gilmour -- one of Tie's former teammates -- to London for three second-round draft picks.
In his OHL debut against the Saginaw Spirit, on Sept. 23, 2011, Domi had a hat trick and dished an assist to lead the Knights in an 8-0 victory.
"He has extensive offensive skills and his skating ability is -- and I hate to say it -- [Sidney] Crosby-esque," London coach Dale Hunter said. "You never want to compare [a player] to someone like that, but he has a very strong lower torso, so his center of gravity is amazing."
Perhaps the comparisons to Crosby have some substance with regard to work ethic since Domi occasionally trains with the Pittsburgh Penguins' captain.
"He's the best in the world, so just to be able to sit there in the same room, watch what he does and see how he handles himself, is unbelievable," Domi said. "After only a couple of hours with him you understand why he is the best in the world. He works extraordinarily hard."
In 59 games for London this season, Domi has a team-best 39 goals, and he's tied for first with 82 points. He also has 14 power-play goals, one shorthanded goal and a plus-32 rating. He also has 59 penalty minutes.
"He's still putting up points when he has a top checker on him and he competes every time he's out there," Gregory said. "People may question his size, but Max is the type of guy who will keep answering those questions every time with his play on the ice."
Central Scouting's Chris Edwards agrees.
"He's been steady all season," he said. "He's been improving on the top line while receiving more attention from opponents. He competes hard every game and battles in traffic. He has a toughness about him that is appreciated by everyone."
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Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer