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  July 22, 2000



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Domi no fan of jazz


By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- For The Sun

 I've got a scoop for all you hockey fans. As tough and wiley as my good friend Tie Domi is on the ice, this past week I witnessed first hand that he has quite a sentimental side. He was so moved by the music in this club where we were hanging out that he stood up and gave the singer a standing ovation with a tear in his eye.

 Well ... not exactly.

 I was in Toronto as a celebrity guest at the Molson Indy and my lawyer, Gord Kirke, said he knew a nice club where we could meet later on.

 During the day, I invited Tie, who was also a celebrity guest, to meet us at the club. I was running late (as usual) and Tie was sitting in this club waiting for me. I didn't know that it was a jazz club. I also didn't know that Tie wasn't much into jazz that evening. The longer he waited for me, the less into it he got.

 By the time I arrived, Tie begged me to let him out of there before he started throwing tables. Just as we stood up to leave, there was a break in the music and the singer announced her last song. Gord said it might be a little uncool if we all left at that moment so we sat down and Tie gritted his teeth, shook his head, hands clenched on the edge of the table. Her last song took only about 25 minutes -- complete with an incredible xylophone solo.

 When 'it' was over, Tie was exuberantly clapping (because we could leave) but the jazz fans in the club thought his applause was a sure sign that he's a huge jazz maniac and they gathered around and invited Tie to all sorts of jazz shows. He thanked them graciously and went home. Now I know what to get him for Christmas.

 The next day, I met Tie and some of the other Maple Leafs when we were in the parade. I immediately enlightened them as to Tie's new-found appreciation for jazz and his gentler side. They mercilessly razzed him to the point where I was lucky he didn't do a Bob Probert on me.

 Oh yeah, I did want to tell you about the Molson Indy. Let me just say that car racing scares the ---- out of me. There are two things I could never be -- a race car driver or a bull rider. I got involved with the Molson Indy three years ago and when my son, Blade, and I met fellow Canadian Greg Moore, he immediately became our favourite. I was impressed with his genuine good nature and how he took the time with Blade right before a big race. His easy-going demeanor reminded me of my brother, Owen and I wasn't surprised to find out that Greg was also a major-league practical joker like Owen. Dealing with the loss of my brother and then Greg's tragedy on top of that made me pause and wonder if the Molson Indy would be the same for me this year without Greg.

 But all of a sudden, there's Paul Tracy, another Canadian, wearing a Greg Moore helmet. I had the opportunity to talk with Paul in the pit before the race and I realized that he wanted to win this race in honour of his fallen friend more than anything in the world. It wasn't about money or ranking -- it was about respect -- just as it had been when I wrestled Chris Benoit in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City in a tribute match to Owen.

 In talking with Paul, I wasn't really all that surprised to find out what incredible condition the race car drivers are in and how much strength they need, especially in their arms and shoulders, to control those cars at such incredible speeds. He's bigger and thicker than the rest of the drivers but he told me that he uses that to his advantage and it must be true because before the race he was No. 5 in the CART rankings. I found myself riveted from the first lap to the last, intensely cheering Paul on. I was really proud of him when he placed third I'm sure Greg was smiling when friend Tie presented him with the trophy. Paul quipped, "My name is Paul. And I Am CANADIAN."

 Me too!

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