Max Domi reveals why he fought Nemec; Matthews chimes in on the scrap

Ryan Smitheram
April 13, 2024  (11:47)

Leafs franchise cornerstone Auston Matthews
Photo credit: Kevin Allen, USA Today Sports

Maple Leafs forward Max Domi showed New Jersey Devils rookie defenseman Simon Nemec why you don't lay your hands on Auston Matthews on Thursday night.

The Leafs were up 4-3 with eight minutes to go in the second period of Thursday's game against New Jersey. In a scrum along the boards, Matthews and Nemec engaged in a shoving match after the puck went down to the corner where Domi retrieved it. After the retrieval, Domi then went after Nemec and landed a number of uppercuts on Nemec, who appeared to want none of the fight. Not only did Domi get a major for fighting, but he also got two minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct. It was Domi's sixth fight for the Leafs and gave him a career high 116 penalty minutes, which also leads the Leafs this season.
The fight appeared to disrupt the flow of the Leafs offensively as head coach Sheldon Keefe had to constantly put his lines in a blender with Domi unavailable to him for almost an entire period. It led to the Devils ultimately storming back and winning 6-5. From his reaction, Max's dad, former Leaf Tie Domi, certainly didn't think that it was the right time for Max to fight and may have sensed what was going to happen.
Following practice yesterday, Domi was asked about why he went over and engaged Nemec and why he felt it was necessary to deliver such a profound message.
"To be honest, like, the corner of my eye I just saw Auston & whoever the other guy on Jersey was battling & wasn't a fan of that so went over."

Watching the replay back, Domi may regret his decision as it was actually Matthews who was the aggressor towards Nemec, not the other way around. However, Matthews appreciated what Domi did and under the circumstances, this close to the playoffs, understood why he stepped in.
"That's what he's all about. He's a team-first guy & he's always going to stick up for his teammates. I didn't think he had to do that, but obviously he felt the need to & I'm always appreciative of guys standing up for one another & myself as well."

Another teammate, Mitch Marner, has seen Domi teach someone a lesson before, during their time together in London.

Mitch Marner commented on the fight following practice yesterday as well and noted that it's not the first time he has seen Domi teach another player a lesson, referencing a practice during a training camp when they played together on the London Knights of the OHL.
"[Domi] scared the st out of me when I was in London when I was rookie. Someone was messing around there with Domes a little too much & you screw around & you find out sometimes"

When Domi signed a 1-year, $3M deal with the Leafs in July, the sandpaper, edginess and scrappiness is what he was brought in to provide, specifically come playoff time. While he only has 9 goals on the season, he does have 49 points, providing some much-needed secondary offense for the Leafs.
The line of Domi, Matthews and Tyler Bertuzzi has played very well since being grouped together by Keefe and has allowed the Leafs' bench boss to spread Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander out across three lines instead of loading up just two. Should the lines stay the way they are heading into the playoffs, it will make it difficult for their first-round opponent to match their depth offensively.
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Max Domi reveals why he fought Nemec; Matthews chimes in on the scrap

Do you think Max Domi's fight with Simon Nemec and his 17 minutes in penalties prevented the Leafs from winning Thursday's game against the Devils?

Yes19153.4 %
No16746.6 %
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