Not too small to be feared

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

His hands were not built to be a great scoring threat yet he found a way to contribute.

There's a reason why Tie Domi is a top fiver on Don Cherry's list of "his guys" -- that reason is "heart".

Truly the epitome of the "old school hockey heavyweight", #28 put a face to the title of enforcer. Scared, bruised, battered and broken his mug was indicative of a guy unafraid to sacrifice the body for his team's cause.

Always accommodating to media and fans alike, I never saw him turn down an interview or an autograph request. His apparent accessibility combined with his blue collar work ethic created an incredible bond with the members of Leaf Nation. Truth be told, the guy who wore that unmistakable blue and white for nearly 1,000 NHL games was, for many years, the most popular player on the Toronto roster.

Domi was blue and white; he was also black and white. You loved him or you hated him.

His antics on the ice provided plenty of ammo to his detractors -- whether it was a sucker punch, flying elbow or a scrap with a fan in the penalty box, he wasn't always the best role model for kids. He made his way into the news away from the ice as well, perhaps the first NHL tough guy to find himself in the middle of society pages and "political scandals".

His legions of fans will remember him as a NHLer who never took a night off and amassed 3515 PIM and somehow found the time to chip in 104 goals.

But let's be honest, his true legacy will always be the scraps with the toughest the NHL had to offer. Domi-Probert put him on the map and he managed to stay there for over a decade. In the new NHL, he may be the last of his kind.

As far as my opinion of the hard-headed #28 ... let's just say I'll always crack a smile when I remember him skating around the ice with his imaginary Heavyweight Championship Belt.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


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