TORONTO -- Senators 4, Maple Leafs 2
It's been a grand career for Maple Leafs tough guy Tie Domi.
The puny pugilist played his 1,000th game Friday night in Buffalo and was honoured before last night's Senators-Leafs game. A thousand games, probably as many punches in the face. Tough way to make a living, even if the pay is good.
Senators tough guy Brian McGrattan, back in the lineup last night after being a healthy scratch for two games, has an appreciation for what Domi's accomplished.
It's also not often when a guy gets to meet his boyhood idol and punch him in the nose, which is what McGrattan did in his last visit to the ACC.
"That was probably my best hockey moment. I don't have too many," chuckled McGrattan yesterday. "I guess that and just making it to the NHL ... my first goal, maybe.
"(Domi) was here when I was in my teens. I remember coming here with my dad," said the Hamilton native. "He was my family's favourite player."
Domi has said a couple of times he did McGrattan a favour fighting him Oct. 29 in the Senators 8-0 win here. Domi said he chased reigning tough guy Bob Probert for three years before getting a dance when he came into the league.
"I had no business fighting that kid, but I did," Domi told Toronto reporters the other day. "I was kind of waiting for Nathan Perrott to do it and once I saw Nathan wasn't doing it, I said to myself, 'Well, I guess I better do it.'
"It took me three years to get Probert to fight me and I gave that kid the opportunity. I don't regret it. That's the way it goes."
McGrattan decked Domi with a huge blow to the beak.
"Guys have to earn their stripes," said McGrattan. "Getting a chance to fight him in my first year goes a long way toward the respect I have for him."
Hear and There:
Domi's teammates gave him the money to build a wine cellar on the occasion of his 1,000 game. Not to say his speech was long, but they could have gotten a good start on it during his remarks. Or at least knocked back a couple of bottles ... We thought we had a scoop at the morning skate yesterday when sharp-eyed Gord Wilson of the Team 1200 noticed Senators forward Antoine Vermette wasn't on the ice. Had he been traded? I hustled over to Senators GM John Muckler, seated up in the stands at the ACC with assistant Peter Chiarelli. "You trade Vermette?" I asked Muckler. "He's gone," said Muckler, pausing for dramatic effect, "to the hospital. He's got the flu." Vermette played last night.
Interesting to note the Minnesota Wild signed G Manny Fernandez to a multi-year deal Friday. Both Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson were set to become unrestricted free agents this summer. That means Roloson is almost a sure bet to be dealt at the trade deadline on Thursday ... Domi spoke from the heart during the pre-game ceremony and was obviously caught up in the moment, even thanking the Senators. "Those were a couple of my funnest games," he said. "I don't know how many fans I have in Ottawa, but I thank them, too."
Ken Campbell of the Toronto Star wrote a good a story about Domi as told to him by a former Leaf teammate. It seems a couple of Leafs found themselves chin-to-chin with a half-dozen Marines in Chicago one night. Domi walked in and asked what was going on. "Hey, you (expletive) midget, this is none of your business," snarled one Marine. "It is now," said Domi. They decided to settle by having the biggest Marine give Domi his best punch, then Domi would get to hit him. "This guy hauls back and punches Tie in the face," remembered the teammate. "Tie looks at him and says, 'That's not your best shot. I'll give you one more.'" The Marine had broken his right hand and wound up giving Domi a love tap with his left. "Then Tie must have hit him 50 times. He was begging Tie to stop," said the ex-Leaf.
Talk at the morning skate yesterday among Leaf observers is former Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph would like to return to the Big Smoke. Current Leafs netminder Ed Belfour has an option for next season, but the Leafs could buy him out for $1.5 million US ... San Jose Sharks super scout John Ferguson is excited about this year's Masters tournament and why not? A friend of his managed to score some tickets for the Monday practice round, so Fergie -- a big golf fan -- will get a chance to see Augusta National ... Taking in last night's game was Ottawa singer-songwriter (hard to say which she does better) and big Senators fan Kathleen Edwards.
After taking a huge hit from Ottawa rookie Patrick Eaves that led to the Senators' first goal, would you say Alexander Khavanov had had enough?