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December 06, 2001

Don't cry for me, Tie Domi
By Dan Patrick

Of all the images from the weekend -- Shaq's performance against the Kings, Vince Carter vs. the 76ers, Monarchos winning the Kentucky Derby and Pedro pitching against the A's -- the one image I can't get out of my head is Tie Domi's performance at his Saturday morning news conference.

What gets me is that Toronto made out. If you're going to do a one-for-one trade, you'll gladly give up Domi for Niedermayer any day. So Domi won.
I didn't feel sorry for him breaking down. I found it absolutely laughable. He doesn't sleep because he's worried about Scott Niedermayer? He certainly didn't seem worried when he was skating -- almost prancing -- around the ice after leveling Niedermayer in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup conference semifinals.

I found it laughable that the tough guy gave us a peek into his soul and tried to show he has a conscience. I was thinking that it was literally a sitcom. He was sitting and giving me comedy -- isn't that the definition of sitcom?

For him to truly open up, it took his 4-year-old asking him, "Daddy, what does 'suspended' mean?" That was the window to Domi that had never been opened. We did find out who can relate to Domi -- a 4-year-old. Possibly they're speaking to each other on the same plane? I can't wait until Domi's son is old enough to truly understand what his dad meant to the game. As they open up the scrap book ...

Son: Dad, tell me the Scott Niedermayer story again.

Tie: Well son, it was Game 4 in the 2001 conference semifinals and we were winning 3-1 with seven seconds to go. The game was firmly in hand and Scott was 40 feet from the action when I sucker-punched him by delivering an elbow to the jaw, knocking him unconscious for about three full minutes. They had to take him out of there on a stretcher.

Son: Oh Daddy, I love that story.

What gets me is that Toronto made out. If you're going to do a one-for-one trade, you'll gladly give up Domi for Niedermayer any day. So Domi won. He did what he's paid to do. He did what hockey allows him to do.

In Game 5, the Devils made a calculated blunder by trying to win a battle and forgetting about the war. It cost them. So now the defending champs are sitting on the brink of elimination.

Tie Domi
A tearful Tie Domi said he made a bad mistake in elbowing Scott Niedermayer, but feels the hit did not merit banishment from the playoffs.
The NHL used to police itself. If you did something like this, eventually you'd get your comeuppance. That said, I maintain my stance that letting him play in Game 5 would have been the best penalty. He's not really much of a player. He has played 710 games and has 68 goals and 93 assists. The only big number Domi has ever produced is, you guessed it, in penalty minutes: 2,890. Nice work.

But his job description, however inaccurate, is hockey player. Then let him play. He gets off easy by not having to face the Devils on the ice this spring. Just remember to mark your calendar for the first Maple Leafs-Devils game in the fall.

I just found the news conference hysterical. After watching it, you got the feeling that it wasn't Domi's fault and that Niedermayer actually skated into Domi's elbow. Domi's crocodile tears were certainly one of the best performances of the weekend -- maybe not the most convincing -- but the best in terms of sheer effort.

Hockey purists will tell you that hockey needs people like Tie Domi. Fine. But after what he delivered this weekend, the game probably can do without Tie Domi himself.

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Toronto Maple Leafs news conference
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Players react to Tie Domi's hit on Scott Niedermayer.
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Scott Niedermayer is taken from the ice on a stretcher, compliments of a Tie Domi elbow.
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