By Drew Cameron,
Sports Business Writer
Max Domi has burst onto the main stage of the National Hockey League this year. As a young rookie he has turned a number of heads with his speed and offensive talent.
However, it is not only his on-ice talent that is impressive. 19-year-old Domi was diagnosed seven years ago at age 12 with type-1 diabetes and has been challenged with the disease ever since.
Domi was drafted this season from the London Knights by the Arizona Coyotes. He has quickly made a name for himself in the league and at this point is certainly in contention for the Calder trophy. Playing in the NHL is nothing new for the Domi family as Max’s father Tie also played a long career in the league.
However, Tie was more of a gritty enforcer who played for the Rangers and Leafs, while his son is much more of a finesse and skill player.
Domi even has a tattoo which advertises his potentially life-threatening condition. He used to wear a medical alert bracelet but claims he would lose it regularly, so he got a tattoo on his forearm to make note of his condition.
Domi says being diagnosed with the disease has been a blessing in disguise. As an athlete, it helps him ensure he maintains a steady diet. As a diabetic, it is crucial to constantly monitor your body’s blood-sugar level and keep it from getting too high or low.
Domi has chosen to wear the number 16 throughout his career as a tribute to one of his playing idols Bobby Clarke a former NHL player and captain of the Philadelphia Flyers. Clarke played for 15 seasons in the NHL and having an icon such as this to look up to helped inspire Domi to push himself to become an elite athlete who could manage his diabetic condition.
Domi is not one to enjoy needles, which are inherent in having diabetes, and so he has to adapt. He currently wears a pump on a regular basis and even on the ice which sits on his hip and is fixed to his body in order to pump the required amounts of insulin into his system when necessary.
In order to cope with his condition, Domi has also been matched up with a service dog named Orion. Domi calls the canine his best friend and has benefited from the pairing.
Having moved out from his parents’ home after being drafted, he no longer can count on his mom coming to his room in the middle of the night to monitor his blood-sugar or constantly nagging and reminding him throughout the day.
Orion was trained for over a year and a half to become a certified service animal. His keen sense of smell helps him identify variances in Domi’s blood-sugar level.
He smells the saliva Domi produces and can identify if it is abnormally low or high in blood-sugar. When it is not in a normal range Orion will alert Domi by pawing at his pump and reminding him to check his blood-sugar and correct the level.
As Domi continues his exciting young career in the NHL it is remarkable to consider that not only has he made the transition to the NHL appear easy he has undergone the process while managing his diabetic needs as well.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.
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