Hockey is a job — this is a family affair

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:56 PM ET


 The timing is uncanny. In fact, a cynic might say it's perfect. Too perfect.

 Which Domi gets the bigger headline? Tie, the Maple Leaf hockey hero and a catalyst in Toronto's Game 7 dismissal of the Ottawa Senators? Or Dash, the one-time computer salesman and key figure in an inquiry that looks like it's going to eat up and spit out at least one high-profile politician?

 What are the odds that the most damning, if circumstantial, evidence against Dash Domi in the long-running inquiry would be presented during a week when the entire city is hyped on hockey in general and on Tie Domi in particular?

 You don't suppose that this is all coincidence? You don't suppose the city's legal eagles had no idea how this might play in the media during the Stanley Cup playoffs?

 Duh.

 It's all too pat, like a Jeffrey Archer novel. Kane and Abel. Tie and Dash. One guy on top of the world, his older brother struggling to keep his head above water. But you can't make this stuff up. Nobody would believe it. The juxtaposition of two brothers, one in full bloom and the other under public siege, stretches the bonds of credulity.

 This should be Tie Domi's finest hour. This is his 15th year in professional hockey, his 14th in the National Hockey League and ninth here in Toronto. Only captain Mats Sundin has been here longer, by one season. Domi made it to the big leagues with his fists and now, at the age of 34, he's still there because he can play.

 He was credited with the goal that broke a scoreless tie in Game 5 against Ottawa, on the way to a 2-0 Leaf victory. Then, on Tuesday, he set the wheels in motion for the Leafs to finish off the Senators in Game 7.

 In the fifth minute of the game, it was Domi's relentless forecheck that picked the pocket of Ottawa defenceman Anton Volchenkov and resulted in Toronto's first goal, when Domi set up Chad Kilger in the slot.

 UNDERSIZED ENFORCER

 There was a time in Domi's career when he had to scratch for every second of icetime, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 He was, and remains, an undersized enforcer in a league full of 6-foot-3, 230-pound brutes and he can still hold his own against any of them. It may not be everybody's cup of tea but it's reality. Fighting remains a staple in today's NHL and Domi hasn't forgotten his roots.

 But along the way, he's become a tough guy who not only dresses in the playoffs when fighting is all but nonexistent but one who can be a game-breaker.

 Tie got into his first scrap when he was eight years old. An older kid had bullied one of his friends at school and typically Tie came looking to right the wrong. The bully ended up, as so many would after him, flat on his back wondering what just hit him.

 He and Dash are the sons of John Domi, an Albanian border guard who smuggled many of his countrymen across the border into Yugoslavia to escape repression during the Cold War. He ended up with a bullet in his head for his trouble, but survived and escaped to Canada.

 AS NATURAL AS BREATHING

 He lived the rest of his life with that bullet lodged behind his forehead. Would you expect anything less of the father of Tie Domi?

 Ever since he became a teenager, Tie has been looking after his hockey "brothers." It is as instinctive to him as breathing. Run afoul of one of the Leafs and it goes without saying you'll answer to him.

 He has a hockey heart barely contained in that barrel chest.

 Soon enough, he'll be required to testify again in the MFP computer inquiry to corroborate his brother's version of events.

 We don't know much about Dash Domi except that he seems to be a tad forgetful. But we do know about his brother and his sense of loyalty.

 This is a guy who, in the normal course of his job, has come to the defence of men he barely knows and has done it with enthusiasm for 15 years.

 So, if he's willing to put it all on the line for a relative stranger, how will he respond when asked to stand up for his own flesh and blood? Do you really have to ask?


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