London Community News
By John Matisz
For teenagers in today’s technology-obsessed world, being connected usually refers to visiting Facebook daily, tweeting often or sending text messages dozens of times per day.
For a pair of London Knights players — Jared Knight and Max Domi — there’s a more important connection in their life, in the form of an insulin pump.
Domi, 16, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few years back, just as he was beginning to show signs of serious hockey talent. Knight, 19, on the other hand, was diagnosed two years ago during his NHL draft season. Together, the two teenagers see their mutual setback as a roundabout advantage.
“I say it’s an advantage because it forces you to be more reliable in terms of being healthy and taking care of your body,” said left-handed centreman, Domi, following a training camp scrimmage last week at the John Labatt Centre.
“You can’t really eat the desserts or the pop and whatnot so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise,” added Knight, who is primed to play his fourth campaign for London in 2011-12, pending a Boston Bruins try-out.
Billeted together for the upcoming season, the two will be available to each other for advice, said Knight. Another one of the house’s inhabitants, a 12-year-old boy, also has Type 1, which is also known as “juvenile diabetes.”
At the rink, they’re monitored by Knights athletic therapist Andy Scott, as well as co-owner/general manager Mark Hunter.
“Big time,” said Domi, when asked if the London’s team accommodation for his disease has been up to par thus far.
“There’s just so many different things they can help you out with,” he added. “Especially with Jared, they’ve been through it all. They know what they’re doing.”
Scott said Knights alumnus Leigh Salters, who played for London from 2008-2010, had Type 1 as well. His experiences with Salters have helped guide him for the most part, except when Knight’s situation first arose.
“When Jared was first diagnosed, it was a learning process,” Scott explained. “It was trial and error basically and there were a couple of occasions when I had to keep a close eye on him.”
The problem was Knight didn’t know why he was experiencing pains, weight loss and other symptoms associated with Type 1 at first. It wasn’t until he went in for tests that it was confirmed he had the disease.
Nowadays, the Bruins’ second-round choice in 2010 is doing just fine.
“If you test your blood every time you eat and you’re good about it, you’ll be fine,” Knight said. “But, it hurts you when you get away from your diet.”
The 5-foot-11, 196-pounder from Battle Creek, Mich. said he is in the best shape of his life, after dropping five pounds over the summer in order to level out his frame and get up to NHL speed.
On top of keeping tabs on their off-ice insulin care, Scott is there to provide any in-game therapy — whether it’s filling their water bottle up with Gatorade between shifts or handing them food during intermission.
“The hardest part is that you can test their blood levels to see where they’re at, but during games and practices they have to tell you how they’re feeling,” Scott said.
As a whole, the veteran and rookie both appreciate the cards they’ve been dealt.
“It’s big for my family that the Knights have been so helpful,” Domi said. “The whole comfort zone helps them a lot.”
Knight added, “(Type 1 is) what God gave us, and you just have to work with it.”
While Domi told London Community News recently that he and his dad both use their hands on the ice, just in a different way, the Toronto native is following in his father Tie Domi’s footsteps in one regard.
Set to don No. 16 for his OHL rookie campaign, Max is doing so in dedication of Bobby Clarke, one of the most accomplished athletes with Type 1 diabetes.
A integral member of the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers — known by many as the Broad Street Bullies — Clarke was a fan favourite, just like Tie.
Max remembers the time he was introduced to Clarke, a player who hit the ice two decades prior to his birth.
“I was in Sick Kids Hospital when I got diagnosed and I think (it was) the second day of diabetes education,” Max said.
“(My dad and I) were watching SportsCentre and a guy with literally no teeth came on the TV and I said ‘Dad, who is that guy? He looks like a beauty.’”