Saturday, August 06, 2005

Domi to media: be nice

After signing a new two-year, $2.5 million deal with the Maple Leafs, tough guy Tie Domi lashed out at the media during the press conference the make the signing public.

Domi, offended at the criticism levied against the club and specifically their young GM John Ferguson Jr., took the opportunity to take the local scribes to task.
"We need the media on our side too, in this market. It was quite frustrating to hear "let's go young", let's go this, let's go that. There's going to be a lot of changeover in this new CBA. Players, two, three years, in and out. You've seen all the changes that's happened in the last few days. So everybody's gotta get used to this. The criticism that's been happening for last week with John, he's just getting used to this cuz he's need at it with the criticism. Everybody has their say and everybody wants to be a general manager, but the decisions he makes are for everybody in this city too, and everybody's gotta realize that. That he wants to win just as badly as everyone else."
But Domi wasn't done there. He then appeared on the Leafs Lunch show, which is simulcasted both on Toronto's 640AM radio station as well as Leafs TV, a digital cable/satellite network. He continued his tirade, specifically targeting former Leafs exec and current co-host of the show Bill Watters.

He was apparently upset over the fact Watters, earlier in the day on the same radio station, claimed Domi and his agent Pat Morris had "manipulated the situation" for a second time. Domi fired back that this comment was very upsetting to his wife and family, and that he doesn't tolerate such remarks. He continued that, for reasons unknown to him, Watters has bashed Domi publicly since the former Assistant GM left the team. When pressed for what about it upset him by the other host, Jeff Marek, Domi stormed off.

This isn't the first time Domi has clashed with members of the press. Two years ago, an Ottawa sportstalk host, Don "The Dandyman" Romani made a crack about Domi abusing his wife, theorizing that if he'll go after noted softy and then Senator Magnus Arvedson, why wouldn't he hit a woman. The comments were repeated jokingly several more times throughout the show. Despite an apology the next day, and an announcement of his intentions to donate money to a local battered women's shelter, Romani was fired. Domi then filed a $1.6 million lawsuit against Romani and the station's parent company CHUM Media Ltd.

As I discussed when Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk bolted Toronto to sign with Florida, playing in Toronto and dealing with the notoriously tough media is not an easy task. Some have even suggested that it's driven away players who were otherwise eager to don the Blue and White.

But regardless, Domi willingly came back to Toronto. He contended he had a better offer to play for Pittsburgh, but decided to take less money to return to the Leafs (probably because his local businesses in the city could make up for whatever discrepency in salary). He knew what he was getting into.

Feuding with the media has never been a wise move for any player of any sport. When was the last time you remember a player calling out reporters, only for them to say "oh, you're right. We're sorry"? Exactly. The likelihood of that happening, in Toronto of all places, is about the same as Domi winning the Art Ross this coming season.

Domi is certainly entitled to his opinion, and in truth, there is probably some merit to all of his comments. However, the media aren't cheerleaders. They're critics. This idea he seems to have about reporters somehow needing to be on "their side" is a wonderful one, but it only exists in an idealized, player friendly market where everyone are friends, players who play poorly aren't called out on it, and writers are given full access to every aspect of the team. Toronto has never been that place, and after this incident, it certainly won't be such for Tie Domi.


At 1:36 PM, Blogger v said...

I'd like to run a lot of smack to the effect that Tie Domi is an overpaid bigmouth stupid blahdeblah...except that in Game One of the last Leafs-Sens series he was in my estimation the best player on the ice. Having said that, I've usually found Bill Watters to be insightful and I think he is on the mark when he says Domi manipulated the situation for a second time. It's just business though, no biggie.

Domi is not the kind of guy I'd want on my roster for 82 games, but I have a healthy respect for him as a player and as a freak-of-nature warrior. I am surprised Toronto resigned him though, especially at this price, but they've gotta sign somebody I suppose since their depth isn't great right now.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I think they realized that, P.R. wise, they had to bring Domi back. Losing him in addition to Roberts and Nieuwendyk would've sent Leaf Nation into a frenzy.

At $1.25 mil, he's probably slightly overpaid, but compared to some of the other contracts being given out, I don't think it's unreasonable.

At least with Domi, you know what you're going to get every night. His effort has never been questioned.

I agree that on some level, you have to respect him. He will go to bat for his teammates time and time again without having to be asked. That's just his nature.

Doesn't mean I agree with what he does on the ice, as often he goes over the line and does something questionable. But if were a Leafs fan, I'd be glad he's not gone.

As for Watters, it seems as though he has some lingering issue with Domi. I mostly like his commentary, but every now and then his own personal biases come through. Having spent as many years in the league as he did, I suppose that's to be expected.


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