Safety, not contract, Domi's priority these days

Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi isn’t sure when he’ll play again and he isn’t sure for whom he’ll play next season. But amid a global pandemic, he says none of that matters much at the moment.

Domi, 25, is a restricted free agent after this season after his two-year, $6.3 million contract with the Canadiens expires. He said in a conference call on Thursday that there haven’t been substantive conversations about a new deal with Montreal. The team could go to arbitration with Domi, who had 44 points in 71 games before the season was paused on March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone comes to a point where your contract is up. Negotiations and all that stuff. But as of right now, there’s just so much other stuff going on in the world right now that’s so much more important than my contract,” he said. “I mean, it’s just as simple as that. I could care less about an NHL contract right now. I want to make sure that we’re doing everything to stay safe.”

Domi and the Canadiens are in limbo, waiting on the NHL and NHLPA decision on the 2019-20 season. If the regular season is resumed, Montreal has 11 games remaining and is 10 points out of a playoff spot. If the regular season is canceled and the NHL skips right to the postseason — which is the current focus — then it’s a matter of what format the league chooses for the playoffs. If it’s 16 teams, Montreal’s season is over; if it’s 24 teams, the Canadiens would be a playoff team.

“At the end of the day, we don’t know what the future has in store for us. All we can do is sit here and get ready to train, work out and go by that,” Domi said.

But the fate of the season isn’t his primary concern. It’s how safely the NHL can return.

“Everyone is obviously a little on edge about this and worried about getting the disease or [infecting] someone they know,” he said. “Everyone wants to play hockey. No one wants to be put in a position where we’re in danger of putting others in danger. If it’s safe, every player would want to play.”

Domi, who has Type 1 diabetes, could be at risk. Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner expressed his concern for Domi while streaming a video game on Twitch this week. “What if someone gets sick and dies? It’s awful to think about, but still,” Marner said. “There’s dudes like [Max] Domi who has diabetes. If he gets it, he’s in [a predicament].”

Domi acknowledged his health concerns. “Being a Type 1 diabetic, it’s something that raises some concern. But you really don’t know how everyone’s going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn’t change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn’t have [diabetes],” he said.

The Canadiens’ center stressed the seriousness of the coronavirus.

“Everyone is affected by this in their own way. A lot of people have been struggling. A lot of people have suffered loss. It’s been a really tough time for everyone, and you have to be sensitive to that. You have to understand that this is very real. People have gotten sick from this. People have died from this. All you can really do is do your part, stay at home, stay safe and be respectful of any rules that were put in place,” he said.

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