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Coyotes' Domi is a hands-on rookie

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Coyotes rookie Anthony Duclair congratulates fellow rookie and teammate Max Domi after Domi scored a hat trick against Edmonton. (Photo by Getty Images)

Max Domi is like his father in that he knows how to use his hands. He just uses them a bit differently.

Domi's dad, Tie, usually had his hands balled up as fists as he fought his way through the NHL for more than 1,000 games with Toronto, New York and Winnipeg.

Max was born in Winnipeg in 1995.

In Tie's best offensive season, he scored 15 goals and 14 assists in 79 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002-03.

Max, 20, uses his hands for offense, already surpassing his dad's highest point total in his first 42 NHL games, scoring 13 goals and 18 assists.

That includes the hat trick Max scored in his last game against the Edmonton Oilers.

If things continue the way they've been going, it won't be long before Max passes his dad's highest goal total.

"He actually did have a lot of skill," Max said of his father before the Coyotes played the Red Wings in early December. "He doesn't get enough credit. He could put the puck in the back of the net, too. One-on-one, I think I got him beat but a lot of mini-sticks, a lot of pond hockey growing up. I was big into watching highlight videos of guys like (Patrick) Kane and (Pavel) Datsyuk, so followed more in the footsteps of learning from those guys instead of watching him."

Tie was in Detroit that night to watch his son play.

"Obviously he played a pretty long career, so he was doing something right," Max Domi said. "I wouldn't be here without the help of him and the leadership and guidance he's given me my whole life. He's a special guy."

Domi and teammate Anthony Duclair are ranked second and fifth in rookie scoring, which makes their individual success and team success even more fun.

"It's been pretty special, obviously," Domi said. "To be part of the NHL is great in itself but to share it with one of your best buddies makes it even more fun. He's doing great and it's fun to see, the team is doing pretty good, too. Just got to keep getting better every day and have fun."

Duclair was originally drafted by the New York Rangers but went to Arizona in a trade last March.

"We've been friends for a couple years now and obviously our friendship grew at world juniors last year," Duclair said. "Coming in here this year, getting our first NHL taste here is pretty fun."

Domi is just ahead of Wings rookie Dylan Larkin with 31 points to Larkin's 29. Larkin has 14 goals, one more than Domi.

"Larkin is a special player," Domi said. "Detroit is lucky to have him and it’s the same with Jack (Eichel) in Buffalo. It’s fun to see those guys doing well."

Chicago's Artemi Panarin leads all rookies with 15 goals and 39 points.

With 48 points in 42 games, the Coyotes are ranked second in the Pacific Division behind the Los Angeles Kings and are sixth in the Western Conference.

"Obviously our team's doing pretty good so we'll take that," Domi said. "Obviously the team comes first and there are a bunch of older guys here too that are a lot of help for the younger guys we have here. It's a great mix. We're excited about the group we have. Like I keep saying, we just got to keep getting better every day and the rest will take care of itself."

One of those older guys Domi is talking about is longtime captain Shane Doan, at 39 nearly twice Domi's age.

"He's huge, we learn something new from him every day," Domi said. "He makes it a lot easier on all of us young guys. You can talk to him about whatever you need. Obviously the league's full of highs and lows and he helps you get through the lows and he helps keep you grounded with the highs, too. He's a pretty special guy and we're lucky to have him."

Domi has already established himself as a very special guy and not just because of his hockey skills.

Domi is a Type 1 diabetic who has to manage his blood sugar levels while competing at the highest level of hockey.

Although Domi has a lot on his plate adjusting to the grind of the NHL season while continually taking care of his health, he also takes time to meet with fellow diabetics, particularly kids.

"In London (Domi played for the Knights), he was always talking to kids at games," Tie Domi said. "He’s a real role model. I’m so proud of how he embraces that role."

Domi said he is following the example of another Type 1 hockey player who paved the way.

"When I as 13 or 14 years old, I was actually at a tournament in Whitby, Ontario and my mom ran into Bobby Clarke," Domi said. "I’d changed my number a couple of months prior to that to 16 because of him. I’d never met him and she was not a big fan of going up to people like that and saying ‘Hey can you come and meet my kid?’ Obviously there’s an exception for everything and he was nice enough to come and say hi to me.

"I know how much that meant to me, so I’ve just been kind of trying to repay the favor and do that for another kid down the line."

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