Cult/Star player for Langnau
Chris DiDomenico has taken a particularly unusual path to the NHL, and at the age of 29 he is still very much on his journey to staying in the show.
Despite scoring 75 points in 70 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs in his QMJHL rookie season in 2006-07, DiDomenico wasn’t drafted until the 6th round that year, by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had a very strong QMJHL career with the Sea Dogs and the Drummondville Voltigeurs, recording 326 points in 246 games, including 75 points in 43 playoff games.
In 2009, he won a QMJHL Championship with Drummondville and a World Junior gold medal for Canada. However, during Drummondville's championship run, DiDomenico broke his femur and knee and was in a wheelchair for months. He was out of hockey for ten months total, and returned for the final 12 games of the 2009-10 season and the subsequent playoffs. He had to re-learn how to skate because of how detrimental his injury was to his leg, but still racked up 43 points in his final 26 QMJHL games.
DiDomenico’s game immediately floundered upon his transition to the pros as a result of his recovery. Shortly after finishing his junior career, he was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks in a multi-player trade and split his first two pro seasons seasons between the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
After struggling to produce at the AHL level, DiDomenico signed with Asiago of Serie A, Italy’s top league, in the summer of 2012. He tore up the league for two seasons, including averaging almost 3 points per game in the playoffs during their 2013 championship run.
In 2014, DiDomenico signed with SC Langnau Tigers of the National League B, Switzerland’s tier-2 professional league. He helped lead the team to a championship in his first season, which earned them promotion to the National League A, and was a star player for the club for three years. He fared well against the stiffer competition for the next two years, but Langnau was naturally one of the NLA’s weaker teams.
Eager to chase down his NHL dreams after five seasons in Europe, DiDomenico signed with the Ottawa Senators shortly after the end of 2016-17 NLA season. After starting 2017-18 in AHL Belleville, he was called up on October 21st and scored his first NHL goal on October 27th to tie the game against New Jersey in the final minute of regulation, 10 years after being drafted. He added a helper and was a +3 in 17:16 of ice time. Not a bad day at the office for a guy who was getting his mojo back on an Italian team five years prior after suffering a serious, career-altering injury.
DiDomenico will need to remain very consistent and contribute in all three zones in order to keep an NHL job over the next few seasons. NHL coaches are virtually always prone to giving young prospects ice time over players who are pushing 30 and have limited NHL experience.
(Peter Oundjian, EP 2018)