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NHL Star Max Domi: Living With Diabetes & Supporting The Fight Against It

Max Domi | Tie Domi | Diabetes

NHL Star Max Domi: Living With Diabetes & Supporting The Fight Against It

Toronto Maple Leafs legend, Tie Domi, is a fan favourite among Leafs’ fans, so when his son, Max Domi, was traded to arch-rival, the Montreal Canadians, heads turned. Domi was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic illness that occurs in 10% of people with diabetes in Canada.  The cause is unknown and there is no cure. It can only be treated with insulin injected into the body and a healthy lifestyle. 

Some people with type 1 diabetes can struggle to maintain the proper blood glucose levels, while others are extremely high functioning despite their diagnosis. Not many people know the lifelong challenge that people with type 1 diabetes face, even when high profile celebrities and athletes, like Nick Jonas, Jay Cutler and Brandon Morrow, deal with it every day.

Max Domi Tie Domi

Max Domi’s Father, Tie Domi

Tie Domi is remembered by Leafs’ fans very fondly. He was the epitome of the term “tough guy,” and he never backed down from a challenge. While he didn’t score very often, he was there to defend teammates and bring energy to his team. He spent seasons with the Rangers and Jets before spending the majority of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. While playing for Winnepeg, he had a son named Max. Max would later be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Tie Domi was and is very supportive of his son in all of his endeavours, including trading in the Maple Leafs’ blue and white, for arch-rival, Montreal Canadians’ threads.

Max Domi Tie Domi

Max Domi and Type 1 Diabetes

As mentioned above, Max Domi is the son of Leafs’ tough guy Tie Domi. Because he is the son of a famous enforcer, Max might be in a position to bring more of a spotlight to the chronic illness that he battles on a day-to-day basis.

At a young age, Domi exhibited many of the symptoms that are crucial to diagnosing type 1 diabetes. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness

Domi and his family knew little about the disease when he was diagnosed, and he was worried he’d never play hockey again, let alone have a shot at the NHL like his father.  He acknowledged in an interview with the Montreal Gazette that his entire life changed very quickly after his diagnosis.  This is often the case for the 300,000+ Canadians are currently living with type 1 diabetes.  Domi wore an insulin pump for a number of years, which pumps insulin into a small cannula that is inserted into your subcutaneous layer of skin.  Later, he switched back to giving himself injections before every meal, as well as an injection of long-lasting, background insulin.

Max Domi Tie Domi

Technology and Type 1 Diabetes

There have been several innovations in the medical field that relate directly to type 1 diabetes. 

1 Insulin Pump

The first is the aforementioned insulin pump. This can give diabetics more freedom to do what they want, as well as giving diabetics and their healthcare team more control over their blood glucose levels. It does this by administering minute amounts of insulin at predetermined time periods.

2 Continuous Glucose Monitor

Another innovation that is helping type 1 diabetics is the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). A CGM allows the diabetic to see their blood sugar levels continuously, instead of simply at every finger prick. This gives a diabetic and their healthcare team more information to make better decisions regarding their insulin dose and their blood sugar levels.

3 Freestyle Libre

Finally, there’s the Freestyle Libre. This device gets inserted into the diabetic’s arm and allows for them to scan their metre over the device to tell them their blood sugar levels. This device has nearly eliminated the need for the finger prick.

Technology has come a long way.  While other players with type 1 diabetes have played in the NHL before, the technology to help them control their blood sugar levels has never been better.

One example of a former player succeeding in the NHL despite having diabetes was former Philadelphia Flyers star, and, later, General Manager, Bobby Clarke. When Domi was a youngster he met Bobby Clarke at a tournament, and he was completely awestruck by Clarke. Domi used Clarke as inspiration: if Clarke could become a Hall of Famer with diabetes, so could Domi.

Max Domi and the NHL

Domi made his dream a realization. He played four years of junior hockey for the OHL’s London Knights. Despite having type 1 diabetes, Domi was drafted 12th overall in 2013 by the Arizona Coyotes. He played for Team Canada at the 2015 World Juniors and put up 10 points throughout the tournament. Domi played his first three NHL seasons in Arizona, before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Alex Galchenyuk. Last season, his first in Montreal, was the best of his career.

Max Domi & Involvement In Diabetes Causes

While he looks to build on his success in Montreal, Domi takes his off-ice commitments very seriously as well. 

1 MyCountour App

Domi helps promote the MyCountour App, which helps diabetics track their blood glucose levels and provide data to their healthcare team.

2 DSkates

Domi also participates in DSkates which is a hockey camp in Toronto for young hockey players who have type 1 diabetes.

3 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Max is also involved with a charity called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  He recently grew out his beard and had his father shave it off after raising $60,000 for JDRF.


Max Domi may have a famous, former NHLer for a father, but he definitely is more than just “Tie Domi’s son.”  In just four seasons, Max Domi has almost matched his father’s career totals for point production.

While blood glucose levels are preferred to be a plateau, Domi’s career is trending up. Only time will tell if this season will be Domi’s best yet.

Max Domi Tie Domi

Written by Anthony Clark
Posted September 23, 2019 in Sport & Society