Fans still faithful

JACK BOLAND and IAN ROBERTSON -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Tie Domi may be public enemy No. 1 to some, but he's still No. 1 with most fans of the Leafs Nation.

And despite his wife claiming the retired player bedded an MP and a TV star, Domi is still booked to start as a commentator on The Sports Network next Wednesday.

Rick Kane, 40, a fan of the bombastic brawler from the first day he donned the blue and white in 1995, said the recent allegations haven't changed his opinion of the ex-Leaf tough guy.

"To me he will always be a fan favourite and this recent development is just a personal issue with him, his wife and family," said Kane, who was sporting Domi's No. 28 jersey as he read and surfed the Internet for information about Domi's alleged affairs with Aurora MP Belinda Stronach and Relic Hunter TV star Tia Carrere.

"He has always had a tough guy image," Kane said.

He said Domi "was always dedicated to his team," but another memory was Domi stopping during a parade to greet developmentally challenged kids Kane works with.

Fans and critics speculated that Domi's career as a businessman and TSN commentator had hit thin ice.

Reader Dave Peckman yesterday questioned why TSN would hire "such a ... terrible role model."

But in an e-mail to the Sun, TSN president Phil King said: "Tie will make his debut on TSN next week."

Long-time retired former Rangers and Leafs star Eddie "The Entertainer" Shack, whose career began when players earned $7,500 a season, lauded Domi for doing well in business and in his personal relationships.

"We've had some good-looking hockey players ... but none of the Hollywood stars would go for us, since we didn't have any money," Shack, 69, said. "When he's finished hockey, let him have as good a time as possible."

Over the years, Domi's off-ice endeavours shone with charities including Rose Cherry's Home for terminally ill kids, Variety Village and visits to Sick Kids Hospital.

In one of more than 120 e-mails to the Canoe website, reader Nicole wrote: "Domi does more for charities than any other hockey figure for Toronto. It's crazy how people can turn and call him a loser."

"I think the fast life and good times are about to come to a screeching halt," Jay Barnes wrote.


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