All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today, we look at the Flyers. You can vote here.
Picking an ultimate villain for Flyers fans?
How about a guy who basically fought a fan during a game in Philadelphia? Not a bad choice.
When thinking of players despised by the orange and black faithful, Tie Domi instantly comes to mind — as does that not-so-hospitable visiting penalty box at the Wells Fargo Center.
Domi, a tough, in-your-face, penalty-minute-collecting winger who enjoyed a 16-year NHL career, scored only four goals for four points in 46 career regular-season meetings with the Flyers.
Playing the bulk of his career for the Maple Leafs, Domi made his imprint in Philadelphia with 238 career penalty minutes against the Flyers, his third most against any NHL team. He truly left his mark, though, on March 29, 2001, in a game at the then-First Union Center. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the third period, Domi went to the sin bin and became the recipient of some heckling (and maybe more). Domi retaliated by spraying a few fans with a water bottle, prompting fan Christopher Falcone to lunge at the protective glass between the stands and the box.
As the glass collapsed, a moment was born and the mystic of Philly sports fans grew. Falcone stumbled into the box and a fracas ensued with Domi and linesman Kevin Collins in the middle of it.
Toronto's 2-1 victory became a subplot to the Domi-Falcone showdown.
To make the story crazier, Falcone opened up a lawsuit against Domi, Collins and Comcast Spectacor. However, the beef was eventually ended. In an episode of the Spittin Chiclets podcast, Domi explained how he orchestrated the two to meet before a game in Philadelphia. They got to know each other, hashed things out and Domi said he brought Falcone to Toronto for a playoff game against the Flyers.
Don't think that the gesture fixed the whole Domi-Philly relationship.
In a fun twist, Domi's son Max was actually a Flyers fan as a kid for a personal and meaningful reason.
“I was definitely a Flyers fan growing up,” Max Domi, who now plays for the Canadiens, said in an October 2015 story by Sean Leahy on Yahoo! Sports. “My dad is definitely not.”
While Domi was always disliked in Philly because he often stirred the pot, he cemented his villain status with the fiasco in the penalty box.
Ironically, the city probably would have been drawn to a player like Domi if he was on the good side because the 5-foot-10, 213-pounder played bigger than his size and never backed down.
"Philly, I used to love playing there, I really did," Domi said on the Spittin Chiclets podcast. "The fans, they loved me but they hated me. I still get fan mail from Flyers fans: 'We miss you, the games aren't the same anymore.'"
Still, nobody will forget the agitator on the ice and in the box that March night during 2001.
Domi didn't just anger Philly throughout his career; he messed with its own. That's a true villain in this town.
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