Campbell’s Cuts: Off-ice moves were Domi’s fort

Aside from having a devastating right hand and a pair of quick feet, Tie Domi survived for 16 years in the NHL by being one of the most politically astute players in NHL history.

(That, of course, has taken on a new meaning given his alleged romantic relationship with Liberal Member of Parliament Belinda Stronach.)

If nothing else, Domi has always had an uncanny ability to make the right move when it came to his own interests and his recent retirement announcement was a perfect example.

The Leafs cast Domi aside and there’s no evidence that other teams were lining up to sign him, but it’s pretty safe to say that had Domi pushed hard enough over the summer, he would have found at least one of the other 29 teams would have been willing to sign him for somewhere near the league minimum.

But Domi knows better than anyone that there are few things as pathetic as watching the decline of an enforcer who refuses to acknowledge what everyone else already knows – that his playing skills have diminished and, more importantly, he no longer has the ability to intimidate people.

Sometimes it gets really, really ugly. And it was getting that way last year when not only did he lose a lopsided fight to Brian McGrattan – then basically blamed Nathan Perrott for not doing the job for him – but he repeatedly refused to fight.

Throughout his career, Domi has displayed a penchant for befriending the team’s best player – Teemu Selanne in Winnipeg, Mark Messier in New York and Mats Sundin in Toronto. Heck, he even became so chummy with team owner Larry Tanenbaum that it got him a two-year contract in the summer of 2005, one that the Leafs terminated by buying him out last summer.

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Now Domi joins Canadian cable sports network TSN, which is a little ironic, considering how much he hated the network for its perceived pro-ownership stance during the lockout.

Self-promoter? Hell, yeah. But Domi is essentially a good person. Every year, he threw a Christmas party for children in Toronto’s homeless shelters and while his foundation picked up most of the cost, few people knew he almost always put the better part of $50,000 of his own money in to cover the cost. He was one of the few Leafs who took the time to visit with and befriend critically ill children and more importantly, often showed up to their funerals if the child died.

But essentially, Tie does what is best for Tie and that’s exactly what he did when he hung up his brass knuckles for good.

Ken Campbell’s Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at

One of THN’s senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken’s expertise delivered to you every issue.