Enforcer Advent Calendar – December 30th – Tie Domi
And then there were two. It’s tough to narrow this prestigious calendar down to just two men, but if 2020 has taught us anything, sometimes, that’s just the way it is. We know there are many gladiators that are more than deserving to take their spot on this tree and if December had 128 days we MIGHT be able to give them all their spot. 2020 has been less than forgiving, so in response, we end it with a bang. Here is Day 30 of the ‘Enforcer Advent Calendar.’
Past Poster Boys –
December 1st – John “Fergy” Ferguson Sr. December 2nd – Tony “Twister” Twist
December 3rd- Dave “Cementhead” Semenko December 4th – Ryan “Muffin Man” Reaves
December 5th – Darren “Big Mac” McCarty December 6th – Colton “Bobby” Orr
December 7th – Stan “Bulldog” Jonathan December 8th – Lyle “Cornelius” Odelein
December 9th –Krzysztof “The Polish Hammer” Oliwa December 10th – Stu “The Grim Reaper” Grimson
December 11th – Basil “Baz” McRae December 12th – Jordan “Tootoo Train” Tootoo
December 13th – Dave “Browny” Brown December 14th –Darcy “Hordichuks” Hordichuk
December 15th – Eddie “The Entertainer” Shack December 16th – Georges “Big Georges” Laraque
December 17th – Joey “Bruise Brother” Kocur December 18th – Tim “Sharkey” Hunter
December 19th – Shawn “Thorty” Thornton December 20th – “Big” John Scott
December 21st – Donald “The Basher” Brashear December 22nd – John “Rambo” Kordic
December 23rd – George “Mr ‘Stache” Parros December 24th – Rob “Rayzor” Ray
December 25th – Derek “The Boogeyman” Boogaard December 26th – John “Moose” Wensink
December 27th – Dave “Tiger” Williams December 28th – Dave “The Hammer” Schultz
December 29th – Paul “Biznasty” Bissonnette
December 30th – Tie Domi
You would be hard pressed to find a more popular enforcer than Tie ‘The Bald Beauty’ Domi. Whether it was in Winnipeg, where the fans religiously chanted ‘Dommmmmmmmmmiiiiiii’ even after Teemu Selänne set the rookie scoring record, or after Domi gave it to a fan who had the cajones to jump in the box with him in Philly. Through it all, Domi was always a man of the people, which is why fight fans shouldn’t be surprised that he even made an appearance with the late Alex Trebek on a real Canadiana episode of Jeopardy. Whether you’re a fan or not, Domi embodied what it meant to be an enforcer. By standing at only 5’10” it meant he didn’t have the luxury of just being an intimidating force, he had to prove it night-in and night-out and never shy away from an opportunity. Maybe it was wrestling incepting his psyche, but it wasn’t an accident that his bouts with Probert were front-and-center on Sport shows, Domi loved giving the fans a show and knew that maybe they came for the game, but the fight was what got them out of their seats.
Tie Domi vs Stu Grimson – February 22, 1996 – 1st period – 17:27
Was this David vs Goliath? Nope, it was just Domi vs Grimson. And while it may have looked the same, Domi’s powerful right-hand was an equalizer far stronger than a slingshot. On a meaningless play, two legendary heavyweights locked up to give the Detroit fans a show. While an outsider may have thought this was going to be ‘easy-work’ for Grimson, fight fans knew that Domi was the furthest thing from easy. While it may seem weird to see Grimson in a Red Wings jersey, he started this battle off strong with two big right-hands, including an over-hand right that knocked Domi’s helmet off. Domi responded back with two big-jersey jabs and a vicious uppercut that just missed ‘The Grim Reaper’s’ chin. It’s absolutely unbelievable how Domi never looked shocked or worried in a battle. Maybe it was because he always knew he had his powerful right-hand waiting to be unleashed, but he never scrapped with anyone without a smirk on his face. The two ended up trading a few blows before the Wings left victorious with a 5-3 win in the famed Joe Louis Arena, but Grimson surely found out that, despite what women may say, size didn’t matter.
Tie Domi vs Donald Brashear – April 11, 2003 – 3rd period – 7:29
There aren’t many people that could stare down ‘The Basher’ and not be intimidated (myself included). But Domi isn’t your regular fella, he’s cut from a different cloth. How do we know that? Well, the Windsor Ontario native traded huge shots with one of the baddest enforcers of all-time and didn’t stop smiling the entire time. That’s not just an enforcer, that’s an ‘Enforcer Advent Calendar’ member. The two squared off after Philly had a commanding 3-1 lead and, while scraps are supposed to jump-start the team, this bout didn’t rally the lowly-Leafs, it just gave Philly fans a show. Big Brashear (member of the ‘Enforcer Advent Calendar’) started the bout strong with two huge left-hands, but Domi’s resilience was unmatched. The Leafs tough guy responded with two massive left hands that sent Brashear immediately to the ice. Clearly, both enforcers could have kept the battle going but the linesmen put an abrupt end to this spirited affair. The Flyers prevailed with a 4-1 win and, while Flyers fans may have been jubilant with their win on-the-ice, they knew Domi was and will continue to be a thorn in their side. On that Friday night in Philly, ‘The Bald Enforcer’ may not have knocked big Brashear out, but he certainly reminded Flyers fans that ‘The Broad Street Bullies’ weren’t just a Philly thing… they were an international one.
It’s safe to say that Tie Domi wasn’t a shy guy. The former Peterborough Pete never cowered when the spotlight was shone upon him, and that’s why every fanbase that got to see #28 in action loved when he was on-the-ice. As the battles with Rob Ray are legendary, they solidified themselves in fighting-folklore with their ‘Deca Dance club’ routines. While Ray usually had the upper hand on Domi and – to the disapproval of Rick Jeanneret – Domi gave it to Ray that night in Marine Midland Arena. In previous bouts, Ray would have loved nothing more than to get undressed in front of the Leafs enforcer, but this time Domi stopped undressing at the precise moment. Ray got his newly designed jersey stuck above his head and, after years of battling the half-naked enforcer, Domi had no problem taking advantage of Ray’s wardrobe malfunction. Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! 3 quick left-hands shook the Sabres enforcer. Credit to Ray for trying to still swing ‘em when he couldn’t see a thing, but Domi was clearly thinking about their previous dances and wanted to make this one their last. Fortunately for Sabres fans, Ray was able to take the jersey-blindfold off and land a couple punches on the Leafs tough guy. Unfortunately, it was a little-too-late. Domi dominated Ray in this bout and made a strong case for his inclusion in the 1998 Rock ‘em, Sock’em VHS.
Let’s be blunt, Domi was a different breed. His famous quote, “let me fight your toughest guy, if I win, I get a spot on your team,” embodied who he was as a person on-the-ice and off. It didn’t matter when or who it was, he was always ready to drop ‘em. Frankly, that’s something you don’t see anymore. The dedication Domi showed to his craft was exemplified by the fact that the year after Teemu set the rookie scoring record, you know who was on the cover? Not the Finnish prince, a tough guy from Ontario was on the cover when the Jets fans sat at their seat on opening night. The role of enforcer has diminished, but their impact certainly hasn’t. Even after his retirement, Domi’s popularity continues to rise. Whether it’s dabbling in soccer, being the placekicker in the CFL or stealing a camera during his son’s U-18 tournament (don’t worry he gave the camera back…without its battery), Domi will forever be etched in Canadian folklore. As I said, Domi is cut from a different cloth. Was it Domi’s intimidating presence that made Chris Falcone drop his ludacris lawsuit against the Leafs legend? Nope. It was Domi’s unworldly ability to be the meanest, toughest SOB you’ve ever met, and somehow still make you love him.