Sundin acknowledges debt to Domi

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Very few of Mats Sundin's 833 points as a Maple Leaf had Tie Domi's name beside them on the scoresheet.

Yet it can be said that Domi influenced Sundin's productivity the past decade as much as scoring wingers Steve Thomas and Gary Roberts. Domi's presence as the Leafs' nuclear deterrent helped Sundin get much of the space he needed to operate safely, especially early in his Toronto career.

"He looked after me and I'll certainly owe him that for the rest of my life," Sundin said yesterday.

"It's mixed emotions today. Tie had a great career. I'm sure he did everything he possibly dreamed of, playing 1,000 NHL games, playing in different markets and (ending) in his home town of Toronto."

During Domi's farewell news conference and after Sundin had spoken, Domi revealed his Swedish friend had tried to sway general manager John Ferguson to let Domi play the last year of his contract. "It's no secret we value Mats' input," Ferguson said, though he went ahead with the buyout on June 30 anyway. Yet on a day when Domi buried the hatchet with so many of his foes on the ice and off, Ferguson was in the front row during an emotional goodbye yesterday.

Sundin no doubt appreciated Domi for being a dressing room lieutenant and addressing many hot-button issues with fellow players, media and management -- not part of the captaincy Sundin embraced.

"When you play in a market such as Toronto, there's a lot of pressure from the outside, a lot of guys are under the microscope," Sundin said. "Tie kept things loose between games in the dressing room in a good way.

UNDERESTIMATED

"He was underestimated as a scorer. He had 15 goals one year.

"He did a lot for young guys coming in and helping them out."

If Domi assisted Sundin's career, he certainly rescued that of Wade Belak, whom Domi deputized as Leafs enforcer after reaching his early 30s and cutting back on his nightly dance card.

"When I got here, I was a young buck and I didn't have any style as far as fighting goes," Belak said. "He showed me balance and that helped me stick around here and help him out. I owe a lot to him.

"Now with the cap and the way fighting is going out, it's really hard for a guy like that, unless he can come in and be a great third or fourth liner and produce. You won't see it again, in my lifetime anyway."


Videos

Photos