Max Domi may have fallen victim to a prank from his Arizona Coyotes teammates when they let him skate onto the ice alone at the Air Canada Centre, but the 20-year-old still scored a goal with his father watching and led his squad to a victory over the Toronto Maple Leaf on Monday night.
The ‘Yotes improved to 5-3-1 and earned five out of a possible eight points in the first four games of their five game road swing, but it’s the tale of Domi that’s turning some heads.
Tie Domi’s kid scored just six and a half minutes into the first period to give the Coyotes a lead, notching his fourth of the season. He has 10 points in nine games and is a plus-seven, leading all rookies in scoring thus far. Connor McDavid has nine points in nine games, with five goals for the Edmonton Oilers. Chicago’s Artemi Panarin has eight points in nine games.
Arizona has another hot rookie in 20-year-old Anthony Duclair, with seven points in nine games.
But Domi’s return to Toronto was one of those wild historical stories, if only because his father was such a fixture on the Leafs and if only because a young(er) Max Domi spent so much time behind the scenes. He has memories playing “mini-sticks” with Wade Belak, remembers hanging out with the likes of Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts.
And now, he’s likely a better hockey player than his father. Sorry, Tie, but you know it’s true.
Domi is familiar with the NHL and the environment that comes with playing the game, which has given him a leg up on the competition. He has a composure that puts him miles ahead.
“We’ve had a lot of people come through over my career that are really talented and you’re like: ‘Man that guy’s got so much skill and he’s a great player, he’s fast, he’s all these things,’” said Doan. “But you can see that the NHL is kind of going to eat him up because the character isn’t there to be the type of players that lasts 15, 20 years.”
Domi is currently getting some serious bounces and rocking a shooting percentage of 20.0, which is largely a result of being in the right place at the right time. The Coyotes didn’t put all that time into his development for nothing, after all, with a few extra years of experience in the OHL serving him particularly well right now.
“Every game he’s played he’s had an impact,” head coach Dave Tippett says of Domi. “There’s still lots to learn and there’s still lots of experiences to be gained, but he’s a very good player and just (has) a great attitude. He’s been a real good addition to our team.”