The Toronto Maple Leafs' Mikhail Grabovski battles with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Craig Adams (left) and Matt Niskanen.
By Mike Brophy
No Sidney Crosby. No Jordan Staal. And yet the Pittsburgh Penguins still had one very special weapon – Evgeni Malkin. The man assigned to shut him down was none other than Mikhail Grabovski.
Most people consider Grabovski something of an offensive force, but on this night, it was his defensive skills that were being called into action. Check the final tally and you’ll discover both Malkin and Grabovski concluded the game with a goal and an assist. However, Grabovski was plus-1 and Malkin was minus-1.
If I told you the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best all-around player last season was a five-foot-11, sublimely skilled forward tough (and some might say bull-headed) enough to absorb huge hits from Zdeno Chara and come back the same night to score the game-winner, you’d be forgiven for fantasizing that former captain Doug Gilmour had come back for one more kick at the NHL can.
However, the aforementioned player isn’t the man once hailed as ‘Killer.’ Rather, it’s centre Mikhail Grabovski — a Belarusian born in Germany and apparently raised by a pack of very fast skaters — who has shown himself to be deadly on the ice.
And for the Leafs to make the playoffs, they’ll need the 27-year-old to at least replicate the 29-goal, 58-point totals he posted last season.
But it would be nice to see Torontonians embrace Grabovski’s talent and spirit a little more than they do at present.
Hockey fans in this city usually direct their affection to the blue-collar, hard-working type personified by Tie Domi.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Were Toronto really home for the Buffalo Bills then the favourite son of fans would undoubtedly be running back Fred Jackson.
He is part Matt Bonner, part Tie Domi, part Wendel Clark, part Pinball Clemens, part George Chuvalo, everything Toronto admires in its athletes. All from a back who has spent his entire football life running against the wind, defying odds, now making a difference on a winning team in the National Football League.
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Tie Domi averaged 3.44 penalty minutes per game for his career, a rate with ranks as the 5th highest in the modern era. He’s also 3rd on the list of career penalty minutes, and 14th on the list of highest single-season PIM totals (365 in 1997-98). If you could measure NHL enforcers on penalty minutes alone (you cannot), this Toronto fan-favorite would be much higher on the list. Domi was never the most feared fighter in the NHL but, always willing to throw an elbow or sucker punch (see video) behind the play, he was certainly one of the most dangerous.
Teemu Selanne Gets Rookie Goal Record In Winnipeg
Remember the goal Teemu Selanne scored against the Quebec Nordiques’ Stephane Fiset to break Mike Bossy’s record for most goals by a rookie in 1993? When he went after a loose puck Tie Domi had sent to the neutral zone, and flipped it over Fiset with one hand?
Who could forget that?
Oh, and the one he scored to tie that game, when he grabbed the puck behind the net when Darrin Shannon’s shot had gone wide, went around the net, sent it in with a wraparound?
Much to my chagrin, I have to admit that Tie Domi — my former Patrick Division arch nemesis — was an exceptionally nice fella when he paid a visit to ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’. Pictured here with me, Cousin Sal and infamous ne’er-do-well Randy, Tie shared tales about his days of standing drinks with Mark Wahlberg and Mike Tyson in Manhattan’s China Club back in the early ’90s. He also talked about his close friendship with the greatest player in the history of puck, Mario Lemieux… a relationship that prevented me from dropping the gloves for a round of fisticuffs.
Ashley's Angels. Former Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player Tie Domi supported Barrie’s Ashley Logan as she celebrated her liver transplant with a fundraiser at the Toronto Zoo recently.
BARRIE – Four-and-a-half-year-old Ashley Logan has had a busy month spreading the word about liver transplants.
She opened the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday, Sept. 12, met Tie Domi with friends at the Toronto Zoo Sept. 17 and then spent part of last Sunday at the Hospital for Sick Children talking about her story.