There’s a little bit of the irony in the title because in fact, Christopher Didomenico has rarely been in the spotlight at all during his hockey career. He is the definition of an underdog, and a testament to what hard work and perserverance can lead to.
As a young Toronto native, he was passed over by the OHL draft, after playing just 4 games in 2 seasons with the North York Rangers of the OPJHL. So, he managed to hook onto a tryout with the Saint John’s Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, made the team, and has blossomed into a great young player since.
He made an immediate impression during his first season with the expansion Dogs, by leading his team in scoring with 75 points in 70 GP, and finshing 3rd in rookie scoring, behind only two of hockey’s top prospects, Jakub Voracek of the Blue Jackets and David Perron of the Blues.
He proceeded to top that performance with a fantastic ‘07-’08 campaign in which he finished 6th in league scoring with 95 points in 70 GP, while accumulating over 100 PIM’s. In fact, he was the only player in the top 10 in scoring to have even over 70 PIM’s. Last season’s performance really put him on the map, and even earned him an invitation to Canada’s World Junior Development camp to work out and play amongst the nation’s best young players.
Chris is described as a gifted, all-around player who is physical, defensively sound and offensively dangerous. He has a certain “feistyness” about him that makes him very tough to play against as he can really get under his opponent’s skin. He’s a very vocal player who’s not afraid to drop the gloves or come to the aid of his teammates. The one knock against Chris comes with his skating ability and his size, which may hinder his offensive potential at the pro level. If you’re only 6′1 170 lbs, and you can’t skate like the wind, you’ve certainly got the odds stacked against you. But then again, he knows all about longshots.
What can we expect from Chris this coming season? Simple: A Big Season.
During their QMJHL preview, Sportsnet polled the QMJHL coaches on various predictions such as top team, top player, darkhorse, etc. Our boy Dido was picked to be two things:
#1 - Top Forward
“With the departure of Claude Giroux to the Philadelphia Flyers’ system and the unlikely return of Jakub Voracek to the Halifax Mooseheads, Christopher DiDomenico is widely considered the top forward in the league.”I think DiDomenico is starting the season with an edge,” a coach said.
“This could be the year he gets out of the shadow of all the players like Giroux and Voracek from last year,” another coach said.
“He will be the top scorer,” a coach and GM said. “He’s not afraid to get in traffic to score some goals and will stand in front of the net to get some rebounds. He’s just very gifted offensively. He’s not necessarily a great skater but he’s a smart hockey player and reminds me of (retired NHL player) Luc Robitaille. He’s always finding a way to score goals and score big goals at the right time. He’s a very dangerous forward.”"
#2 - League MVP
The Sea Dogs’ top sniper and Toronto Maple Leaf prospect, who was once overlooked by every Ontario Hockey League team, was the unanimous winner for this category after also taking the Top Forward.”He’s always dangerous,” one coach said. “Sometimes you don’t see him in a game and he has three points. I think he has to improve his skating but he’s dangerous with the puck and without the puck he’s always in a good place. He can make good passes and score goals; he’s always there at the right time and that’s a great quality.”
Some very high praise from some esteemed hockey officials. I, along with the rest of the Q it seems, are expecting a monster season stats-wise from Dido, likely eclipsing 100 points. After that, he will likely finish out the season for the Marlies and then play for them full-time in ‘09-’10.
However, the most important aspects to look for from Chris this coming season arehow he handles an increased role both in the locker room and on the ice, along with improvement in his skating ability. He’s gone from an obscure afterthought to a legitimate NHL prospect. Let’s see if he can make the next step and become one of Toronto’s blue chippers by the end of the year.
Gotta love the underdogs. But if you ask opposing players, that’s not the kind of “dog” that they would describe him as. Gotta love it.
Always a pleasure,
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