Max Domi, you're doing it wrong. You don't come back from Phoenix and then go on holidays by getting suspended for a head shot.
On Sunday, the London Knights sensation cut his return from the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes short thanks to a play that looked much more comically misguided than malicious, which is not unlike some of his father Tie Domi's greatest hits. The 18-year-old Domi, who no doubt was returned to junior with some pro tips to develop maturity to go along with his seemingly bottomless skill, took a clean check from the Guelph Storm's Brock McGinn. Moments later, McGinn skated over to cut off Domi's rush up the ice, prompting Domi to launch "a pre-emptive strike," leaping and forearming McGinn in the head. Domi got a five-minute major and game misconduct; McGinn returned to finish the game and help the Storm hand the Knights a 6-3 defeat.
Domi spent all of Saturday in transit getting from Phoenix to Southern Ontario in order to play in the Sunday afternoon game. Rest might have been a better idea; tiredness sometimes results in short tempers, at least for the rest of us.
From Tony Saxon:
Game might have been a little different had Max Domi stuck around, but he got tossed 15 minutes into the game for a head check on Brock McGinn. Domi was the best player on the ice for the first 15 mintues of the game.
The hit came as Domi was upset after being roughed up by McGinn second earlier. He anticipated another hit coming and it looked like he tried to throw a pre-emptive strike. Unfortunately the puck was nowhere near McGinn, he left his feet and his forearm hit McGinn in the head.
McGinn stayed down but was out there a shift later on the [Storm's] power play. (Guelph Storm)
The Knights learned during the game that fellow 18-year-old NHL first-round pick Bo Horvat is returning from the Vancouver Canucks. London supporters might have to wait a week or so before seeing Domi and Horvat in uniform, since a suspension is probably in the offing.
From Ryan Pyette:
“I don’t think it was good but he (Domi) is a competitive guy,” Guelph head coach Scott Walker said. “Both those guys (Domi and Carolina pick McGinn) are quality pro hockey players. He (Domi) tried to reverse hit him. I understand he got hit by Brock and wanted to go back at him.”
Walker said Domi put himself in a bad spot and had to lunge for McGinn.
“If he just waits from him to come for him and hits, it’s probably a better one,” Walker said. “He just put himself in a bad spot and I’m sure it’s not going to be good for him.” (London Free Press)
The impact of the play was apparently benign since McGinn stayed in the game after quite possibly embellishing in order to draw the major/game misconduct. It's also dubious that Domi, while in midair, could have put much force into that forearm. However, McGinn's head was the principal point of contact in a league that under commissioner David Branch, uses suspensions as a deterrent to headshots. That will likely mean a suspension is in the offing for one of the league's marquee players on its marquee teams.
A few star players in the OHL have felt the stern, swift hand of #BranchJustice. Two-time Team Canada defenceman Dougie Hamilton earned a 10-game ban in 2011-12 for a late check to the head while playing for the Niagara IceDogs. Last season, Ottawa 67's star Sean Monahan's push to be a top NHL draft pick was briefly interrupted by a 10-game head-shot ban.
Domi's play, to be clear, was not on the level of those examples. It was just not a hockey play, especially for a third-year player who should understand his talent entails being a marked man. None of the adults invested in his progress into a mature, an even-keeled competitor — the Knights, Coyotes and last but not least Hockey Canada, which has a world junior championship on European ice with European referees in three months — should condone such an act.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org (video: Facebook).