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Domi likes Leafs' toughness
Thursday, October 1, 1998
BY NEIL STEVENS -- Canadian Press
TORONTO -- Tie Domi knows he's a target for every brash young opponent trying to win a job during the NHL's exhibition schedule, but he doesn't mind at all. He's been there. He did the same thing 10 years ago. "It's good to see young kids trying to make it into the league," Domi said after the Toronto Maple Leafs' Thursday practice, his knuckles tender after a fight with Montreal Canadiens hopeful Terry Ryan the previous night. The dangerous young dudes come looking for him, and he's always obliging. Going toe to toe with Domi and not getting knocked flat impresses their coaches. Once the real season begins, most of Domi's fights will be against more recognizable opponents who manhandle Toronto's better players. "A guy like Mats Sundin, I take pride in taking care of him," Domi says. "He played every game last season. "When I played with (Teemu) Selanne, I took pride in taking care of him. I take care of my teammates, especially the elite players. They're the guys other players take runs at." Still, Domi knows that a true indication of an improvement in his team this season will be if he has to drop the gloves less frequently. Teammates will be into the fray more often. So, he's hoping he won't be called up quite so often to bare his knuckles. It certainly is coach Pat Quinn's desire. "Pat's really into team toughness," Domi says. "He wants everybody on the team to be team tough -- just like playoff hockey. "If that's the way he's looking at it, we're going to be a lot better team. And I want to show I can play. I've got more to offer than one thing. I have to take care of my teammates but, other than that, just going out and getting in a fight for the sake of fighting like I have the last few years, that wears on you -- on your hands and on your body. "Hopefully, we'll have a winning team and I won't have to do it as much." Domi had four goals and 10 assists for 14 points last season, when he accumulated 365 minutes in penalties. The previous year, he had career bests of 11 goals, 17 assists, and 28 points, with 275 minutes in penalties. "We want to challenge him to be a better player," says Quinn. Domi wishes the NHL would eliminate fighting instigation penalties. Troublemakers would be less prone to run stars, he says, because there would be immediate retribution. "There would be less cheap shots because in the back of their mind they'd be thinking, 'Hey, if I do this, (Domi is) comin'."