Arizona Coyotes rookie Max Domi had a chance, unexpected and unforgettable meeting with Philadelphia Flyers legend Bobby Clarke at a rink in Kitchener, Ontario, shortly after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old.
Domi will never forget the impact that meeting had on him because he saw for himself a former NHL player who made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame despite his Type 1 diabetes.
"I switched my number to 16 because of Bobby Clarke," Domi said last month during a visit to Prudential Center. "I was lucky enough to meet him at a minor hockey tournament. I met him for like maybe two minutes and I realized how much that did for me and I was like, 'That's an eye opener.' It's something difficult to deal with, but he's dealing with it so why can't I?"
Clarke remembers that meeting too, a testament to the impact it and Domi have had on him.
"I went to see my grandson, who was playing in the same rink," Clarke told NHL.com in Toronto prior to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Nov. 9. "I walked in and I met Max. His mother was there. I met him and his teammates. I had heard from his dad [former NHL player Tie Domi] that he had juvenile diabetes and he wanted to be a hockey player, and because I had made it I had some small influence on him."
Years later, Clarke said he enjoys watching Domi play for the Coyotes, but he doesn't see the significance in making him out to be special just because he has diabetes.
Instead, Clarke wants people to see Domi for what he is, a professional hockey player making a difference on his team.
Domi is second among rookies this season with 16 points in 19 games.
"I know he has diabetes, but when I see him I see a hockey player," Clarke said. "He's a hockey player who happens to have diabetes, it isn't the other way around. So I'm watching the hockey player. He's an adult. He can take care of his own diabetic problems, which he has. But I like watching him as a hockey player because he's a terrific player."