‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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Back in the summer of 2005, Dominic Moore and Henrik Lundqvist entered Rangers training camp with no guarantees in front of them.
While both players would go on to establish themselves in the NHL, neither were selected as high picks in the 2000 NHL Draft. Moore went in the third round, while Lundqvist slipped all the way into the seventh before the Rangers took him 205th overall.
Their path to the NHL was paved through sheer effort. The rookie duo shared a fierce competitive fire and the urgency required to crack the Rangers’ roster ahead of the 2005-06 season.
The task in front of them was to impress head coach Tom Renney, who was beginning his first full season behind the Rangers’ bench after guiding them for the final 20 games of the 2003-04 season, before the entire 2004-05 season was scrapped due to a season-long lockout.
A clean-shaven, 23-year-old Lundqvist entered Rangers camp in 2005 fresh from the Swedish Elite League. He had enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom in Sweden by winning two league titles with Frölunda, including earning league MVP honors in 2005.
Despite his success in his homeland, Lundqvist was a relative unknown in North America. As a rookie, he did not possess his trademark rugged beard, nor did he own the keys to his pulse-quickening Maserati.
He was battling veteran Kevin Weekes in camp — and Renney preferred the steady, NHL experience of Weekes over Lundqvist’s European promise.
Weekes was penciled in as opening night starter on Oct. 8, 2005 against the Devils until an injury forced Lundqvist immediately into the spotlight. When Weekes returned to health, it didn’t matter because Lundqvist’s play had spoken for itself.
“There were little things you could pick up on, of course,” Moore said. “One thing you could tell early on — he’s one of the most competitive human beings you could ever be around. It spills over into everything he does.”
Lundqvist’s competitive spirit hasn’t changed over the years. Even in practice he can been seen barking at himself after giving up a goal. He’s meticulously hard on himself, constantly picking at his own faults and searching for ways to improve.
“That drive makes him be prepared, makes him get better every single day,” Moore said. “That was apparent early on. We obviously spent a lot of time together that year. That was one of the things that stood out.”
“It’s one of those crazy things to think back that Hank and I were just rookies at that time,” Moore said. “When you’re just breaking into the league, those are special times. I definitely enjoyed that year for sure.”
Moore spoke of the mutual delight shared by himself and Lundqvist to be back together after their experiences bonding back in 2005-06.
“He was pretty excited, as was I to come back here and be teammates again,” Moore said. “We’ve been in touch, too, over the course of time. It’s good to be back as his teammate.”
MOORE’S CAREER COMES FULL CIRCLE IN NEW YORK
Moore said he fondly recalled driving to training camp in Tarrytown, N.Y. as a rookie with a point to prove, adding the memories of his youth came flooding back to him, now that his winding career path has taken him back to where it all began.
“Driving up to Saw Mill, I was like — man, this seems like yesterday,” Moore said. “I was doing this every day. It’s crazy how time flies, but I couldn’t be more excited to be back here and create some new memories in a familiar place.”
Moore’s path has taken him all over the North American map. After his first full season in New York, Moore was traded to Nashville in the summer of 2006. The Predators then traded him to Pittsburgh on the same day. He then became a well-traveled journeyman, making stops in Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay, San Jose — and finally back to New York again.
THE HOCKEY WORLD RALLIES AROUND RETURNING MOORE
The 33-year-old has made plenty of friends throughout his unique path across the hockey landscape. Moore’s spirited, grinding play has earned the admiration fans in the various markets he’s played in. He said the support of Rangers fans during his formative years in New York sticks out in his memory.
“Absolutely, the hockey world is a small world,” Moore said. “(You’re) always thankful for that community of support around you. Rangers fans in particular have always been incredibly supportive when I was starting my career here. It was incredible.”
Moore took a leave of absence from the game in the midst of a playoff run with the Sharks when his wife, Katie, was struck by liver cancer in April 2012. Moore said his wife did not take the news as a death sentence, as she courageously battled on.
The Moores didn’t let cancer get in the way of their plans. Katie fully immersed herself in renovating their condo in Boston. But despite her fighting spirit, cancer eventually took Katie’s life on Jan. 7, 2013.
Her story continues to inspire others dealing with the rare form of cancer.
When Dominic chose to return to the NHL with the Rangers this summer, the news was greeted with widespread support from friends around the league, media and fans.
“I’m getting tons of messages and encouragement,” he said. “It means a lot, for sure.”
PROVIDING A GUIDING HAND FOR RANGERS KIDS
Moore said he remembers what it was like to deal with the tremendous pressure of trying to make the team during camp.
“Certainly during camp, there’s a lot of kids,” he said. “Here, there — you give them a little bit of feedback. I think that’s appreciated. When I was a young player, I certainly valued some of the feedback of the older guys.”
He had impressed in Hartford both with his energetic play and solid production, logging 88 points in 148 AHL games. Opinion was split over whether Moore could translate minor league success into a full-time gig with the Rangers. He was a somewhat undersized center, lacking obvious offensive abilities and only possessing a thin amount of NHL experience.
Back in 2005 the Harvard graduate solved the tricky equation of how to make the lineup and then stick. He survived final cuts and went on to play all 82 games in his full rookie season.
Moore said he’s noticing a new wave of talented youngsters in Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Oscar Lindberg, Danny Kristo, Jesper Fast, Dylan McIlrath, among others, standing in the locker room stalls around him.
He said he recalls a respected veteran making the process easier on him during camps in 2000 and 2001.
“I remember early on when I first came to a camp, Adam Graves was so positive, going around, tapping them on the shins in practice, saying ‘good job.’ That kind of support is great,” Moore said.
ROSTER SET FOR PRESEASON OPENER IN NEWARK
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault revealed his roster for Monday night’s preseason opener against the Devils at Prudential Center.
Forwards: Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Chris Kreider, Dominic Moore, Arron Asham, Darroll Powe, Ryan Bourque, Brandon Mashinter, Kristo, Marek Hrivik, Shawn O’Donnell.
Defensemen: Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, John Moore, Aaron Johnson, Justin Falk, Stu Bickel/Dylan McIlrath.
(Note: Bickel has been dealing with a back issue. McIlrath will take his place in the lineup should Bickel not be able to play.)
Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot.
RANGERS TRIM ROSTER
Team president and general manager Glen Sather announced that 14 players were re-assigned by the Rangers following Sunday’s scrimmage.
Players sent to Hartford of the AHL: Jeff Malcolm, Jason Missiaen, Scott Stajcer, Samuel Noreau, Charlie Dodero, Kyle Jean, Jason Wilson, J.T Barnett.
Players sent back to respective junior clubs: Ryan Graves (Charlottetown, QMJHL), Troy Donnay (Erie, OHL), Ben Fanelli (Kitchener, OHL), Jimmy Oligny (Rimouski, QMJHL), Anthony Duclair (Quebec, QMJHL), Klarc Wilson (Prince George, WHL).
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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