Leading up to the Monday, March 22, 2022, NHL trade deadline, there was a lot of back and forth about whether or not the Carolina Hurricanes were going to make any moves. General manager Don Waddell had said not to expect any moves, but fans still expected something, even if it was small.
As the 3 PM, EST deadline neared, it looked like Waddell may not actually be making any trades. In the last hour, rumours began to swirl that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi was headed to Carolina. As the closing bell rang, the news became official, Domi was now a Hurricane in what would be a three-way trade with the Florida Panthers that included a 2021 draft pick, an NCAA player, and a Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) forward.
Domi arrived in Carolina on Tuesday and saw a few familiar faces from his days with the Arizona Coyotes in Jordan Martinook, Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan, Tony DeAngelo and former Montreal Canadiens teammate, Jesperi Kotkaniemi. For fans, though, they aren’t as familiar with Domi as his former teammates. In light of his first game with his new team, let’s dive into the new guy.
Early Years in Hockey
Max Domi was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada to Leanne and Tie Domi while his father was playing for the Winnipeg Jets. About a month after the younger Domi’s birth, Tie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he would spend the rest of his career and where Max would spend his childhood.
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Domi started skating at two-and-half years old after watching his older sister, Carlin, on the ice. He took to skating early and Domi knew from an early age that he wanted to play hockey. While his dad would be on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens playing the game, the younger Domi would be in the back of the family room playing mini sticks with the other kids. When he wasn’t playing mini sticks, he was gorging on the player sugar cookies that were provided in the family room. His favourite was Mats Sundin, his godfather, and a player he always looked up to, so much so, that once he started playing hockey he would wear Sundin’s number 13.
At the age of eight, Domi started playing AAA hockey with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. The following year he switched organizations and joined the Toronto Marlboros where he played with Jordan Subban.
Life Changing Moments
In the summer of 2007, Domi was invited to take part in a camp hosted by the Detroit HoneyBaked Hockey Club. It was an intense three days, but he pushed himself hard to get the most out of the experience. The drive home would take Domi’s life in a direction he didn’t expect. For nearly a four-hour drive home, Domi went from feeling like he swallowed a desert to feeling like he’d held his bladder for hours.
When they arrived back in Toronto, his mother instantly took him to the family doctor who soon discovered that the twelve-year-old had type 1 diabetes. Domi’s world came crashing down. What did this mean for his hockey career?
His doctor told him about Bobby Clarke, who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nearly the same age as Domi. This would change the young boy’s life, letting him see that his dreams were still alive and in turn, would teach him responsibility and how to take care of himself.
It was a long road filled with ups and downs as Domi documents in his book No Days Off: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes and Journey to the NHL. Thankfully, in those early days of learning how to understand this new life, the family had neighbours with two sons who had diabetes. Being around people who understood diabetes, how to manage it, and how to respond to emergency situations, was a blessing for the family. For them, this was uncharted waters, but through the strength and guidance of those around them, Domi learned how to manage his diabetes and continue to chase his NHL dreams.
About two years after the initial diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, he was still having problems regulating his blood sugar. An endoscopy came back showing that the now fourteen-year-old had celiac disease as well. It is common for people with type 1 diabetes to also have celiac, but this meant that the teenager had to become even more restrictive of what he could eat. Again, it was new waters the family had to learn how to navigate, but they did it together.
When it was time to start looking into his future, Domi considered several options, including playing for the University of Michigan in the NCAA and for the United States Hockey League before ultimately deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps and go the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) route. While he was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs in May 2011, a summer trade sent him to the London Knights and to a billet family who, much like his childhood neighbours, had a child with type 1 diabetes and who would be able to care for Max while he was living with them.
Two years later, the Domi’s would be sitting at Prudential Center waiting to see which team Max would be going to. He had grown up playing with Darnell Nurse and Bo Horvat, who would get drafted just a couple of picks before Domi. He nervously waited for his name, and finally, with the twelfth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the then-Phoenix Coyotes, drafted the Canadian forward.
Life in the NHL
While Domi did make it through training camp in that first year, he was sent back to London to get stronger and work on his game. It was echoed by Coyotes general manager, Don Maloney, the second year as well. In this final year with the Knights, Domi would get the honour of being named captain, and getting to compete at the 2015 World Junior Championship where he and Team Canada would bring home gold.
By September 2015, Domi had won gold with Team Canada and spent a year as captain in London, and he got stronger as Don Maloney wanted to see. With that new experience, Domi finally cracked the roster. In that first game during the regular season, Domi notched his first goal and assist against Jonathan Quick. Domi would spend three seasons with the Coyotes, playing alongside current Carolina Hurricanes, Jordan Martinook, Antti Raanta, Derek Stepan, and Tony DeAngelo. In three seasons, he had 54 goals and 99 assists.
It wasn’t all fun and games in Phoenix, as Domi learned in December 2015 when he received not one but two injuries, one courtesy of Martinook. The first injury came during the first period when Domi’s toe picked and went down flat on a defender’s stick. He initially thought he had a broken nose, but realized the injury wasn’t enough to keep him out of the game. During the second period, he was in front of the net when Martinook tipped out his stick to get the puck into the net and instead of hitting the puck, his blade smacked Domi in the face. His face went numb and his eyes swelled shut, but he heard his father’s voice in his head telling him to pick himself back up, and he managed to skate back over to the bench. Two injuries in one game still didn’t stop Domi, and he finished the game on the bench with the rest of the team.
After three seasons in Phoenix, Domi was traded in June 2018 to the Montreal Canadiens, a trade that sent Alex Galchenyuk to Phoenix. While there he signed a two-year extension with the team. His first season in Montreal was his best in the NHL thus far. In 82 games, he scored 28 goals and 44 assists. The next season would see him getting 17 goals and 27 assists. During the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Domi and a was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Josh Anderson. In next day he would sign a two-year extension. In both seasons, he scored nine goals.
On March 21, 2022, Domi was part of a three-way trade that brought Domi and NCAA defensemen, Tyler Inamoto, to the Hurricanes in exchange for the 94th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Aidan Hreschuk who went to Columbus, and Kontinental Hockey League forward, Ego Korshkov who will be going to the Florida Panthers. This allowed the Hurricanes to stay under the salary cap. Columbus will retain half of Domi’s salary for the rest of the season.
Outside of Hockey
Outside of hockey, Max works with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He has sat on panels to discuss juvenile diabetes and even talked with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to approve funding.
He has a diabetes alert dog, Orion, he is there to keep Domi safe and will alert if his blood sugars drop or get too high. In 2019, he wrote a book called ‘No Days Off’ about his life with Type 1 diabetes and his journey to the NHL. One thing he wants people, especially those with diabetes to know, is that there’s no need to be scared of it. It has made him stronger as a person and shaped him into the person and player that he is today. It hasn’t stopped him from going after his goals and doesn’t want it to hold back anybody else either.
Going to the Hurricanes is going to be a new experience for Domi. The day after the trade, his father posted a story to Instagram of him going to the NHL Store in New York City and stocking up on new threads to represent his son. One thing is for certain, he’s going to a strong team who are playoff contenders. The familiarity with some guys on the roster may work in Domi’s favour as he tries to fit into the new team. He had his first skate at PNC Arena on Wednesday, March 23, and the Thursday game against the Dallas Stars will be his first in the red sweater, and it will be exciting to see how he fits into the roster.
Domi’s book, No Days Off, is available at most major book retailers across the United States and Canada, including Amazon. To donate or learn more about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, visit their website to find more information.