Domi 'scared' of Belak

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Wade Belak couldn't help but make a joke at the expense of Tie Domi on the occasion of the latter's 1,000th NHL game. Before he became a Leaf in February of 2001, Belak played for the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche. But Belak said he never fought Domi.

"Came close a couple of times but he was scared," Belak said with a laugh. "He knew better. But he was intimidating to play against. I know he does not (fight) much now, but he had a lot of guys' respect when they were coming up."

Fellow teammate Darcy Tucker, who doesn't mind the odd scrap himself, was impressed with Domi's accomplishment.

"It's a tribute to perseverance," Tucker said. "He fought a lot of battles for a lot of guys. It's a special moment for him and the organization."

Three men with whom Domi had plenty of issues over the years -- Bob Probert, Rob Ray and Marty McSorley -- all reached 900 career games, but none hit 1,000. One tough guy who did was Craig Berube, who played 1,054 games.

GOING ON THE OPEN MARKET?

Sabres defenceman Jay McKee finds himself in the same predicament, to an extent, as the Leafs' Bryan McCabe.

McKee will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if he does not re-sign with Buffalo. While the Leafs are hoping to get McCabe done, the Sabres won't negotiate with McKee during the season.

"I would assume teams have a better opportunity to keep their players if they negotiated during the season," said McKee, who has been with the Sabres his entire career.

"I understand that unrestricted free agents tend to move if they're not signed in-season. Once 30 teams have the option to bid on a player they don't end up in the same spot. I'm very aware I may end up somewhere else."

KUDOS FOR LAFONTAINE

Leafs rookie Kyle Wellwood was happy to learn he was going to play in Buffalo on the same night the Sabres retired Pat LaFontaine's No. 16.

"He was one of my favourite players," Wellwood said. "When he played with (Alex) Mogilny, I used to try to watch them whenever I could. It's pretty exciting I'm playing in the game."


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