Fulltilt Legends: Tough Guy, Tie Domi

Domi vs. Probert at MSG 1992 (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

Domi vs. Probert at MSG 1992 (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

Tie Domi was born on November 1, 1969 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He was chosen (27th overall) by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1988 NHL Draft. Domi made his NHL debut with the Leafs during the 1989-90 season. He appeared in 2 games yet somehow managed to accumulate 42 PIM!

During the summer of 1990, Domi was traded along with Mark LaForest for Greg Johnston to the NY Rangers. In parts of 3 seasons with the Blueshirts, Domi made his mark. While only appearing in 82 games during that stretch, Domi left a few indelible marks with the Ranger faithful.


How can anyone ever forget his epic battles with then “reigning heavyweight” Bob Probert? Or after fighting Probert, Domi feigning a heavyweight championship belt around his waist ala NFL QB & Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers and his “Discount Double check” move? Or the mimicking of hitting a boxing speed bag after a fight? Or riding his stick like a witch’s broom after scoring a huge goal?



FYI: All 9 Domi vs. Probert Fights are at the end of this article.

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Domi was most certainly a character. In just those 82 games he accumulated 526PIM!! Keep in mind that in a lot of games he rarely saw ice time! He also managed to pot 5G & add 4A during that time span as well. Alas though, the “Domi Era” was brief as he was traded, along with Kris King, to the Winnipeg Jets for Ed Olczyk on Dec 28, 1992.

Domi would get to see more quality ice time in his little over 2 seasons with the Jets. In 161 games he would net 15G & chip in 25A along with a mind numbing 824PIM. He would get his career break through moment though when he was traded back to the Leafs in 1995. In parts of 12 seasons with Toronto, Domi played in 777 games scoring 84G & 112A with 2265 PIM.

His time in Toronto while successful by his standards was also pot marked by several ugly on ice incidents. He was fined several times by the League office for incidents such as when he knocked Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson out cold. While taking action on Samuelsson was applauded by some in the NHL community (Samuelsson was no angel either!) it was the way that Domi did it that raised the ire of many. He deliberately sucker punched him and left Samuelsson with a concussion.

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It was that exact type of behavior that the NHL was trying to distance itself from. He was fined and suspended for that. In the playoffs in the spring of 1991, Domi also elbowed New Jersey devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer in the face knocking him out too. Domi received a fine and was suspended the remainder of the playoffs. There was also an ugly incident with a few fans in Philadelphia as well. Domi’s career came to a somewhat sudden end after a dispute with coach pat Quinn.

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The Leafs disciplined Domi after he failed to show up at the arena until well past the game started on a night where he was a healthy scratch against the New York Islanders. That insubordination led the Leafs to fining him and upon the conclusion of the season, they bought the remaining 2 years of his contract out. Unfortunately for him, he did not receive any offers on the open market and in September 2006 he announced his retirement.

For his career, Domi played in 1,020 games and had 104G & 141A. Domi’s 3515 PIM ranks 3rd all-time behind Dave “Tiger” Williams & Dale Hunter.

Even off the ice, Domi has remained a magnet for publicity & controversy. He has appeared in cameos in a few films and Canadian TV as well as the “Battle of the Blades” (a Canadian on ice version of “Dancing with the Stars”). He also was involved in an alleged sex scandal with a member of the Canadian Parliament while he was married. He and his wife have since divorced.

Most recently, his son Max played for the London Knights of the OHL. Has there ever been a player who has done more with less than Domi? Sean Avery maybe?

Despite what Gary Bettman and the hockey naysayers want, fighting & toughness is still part of the game of hockey. In a game that is played at a fast paced and sometimes violent way, hockey has been the one sport that has allowed its participants to engage in pugilism. What I will give Bettman & company credit for though is the more or less outlawing of the full scale bench clearing brawl and in most recent years the pre meditated fight. These are things that the NHL can do without. However, all teams need a tough guy or two to keep its opponents honest. Therefore, there will always be a place for guys like Tie Domi.

Of course, Domi being considered a Rangers legend is purely based on our bias towards a good old fashioned throw down. However, if you were a member of the Garden Faithful during that era, you’d know how badly the Rangers were pushed around in the late 80’s. The sight of little Domi taking out the Big Bad Bob Probert was legendary all to itself.

He also makes it through marriage. Adam Graves married Domi’s cousin Violet.

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