‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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The responsibility of representing the Big Apple can sometimes weigh down athletes like a boulder. Playing in New York is not for everyone. The isle of Manhattan tends to saddle its players with the harshest of expectations. And reinforcement of those expectations comes via the most venomous abuse.
New Yorkers have built up and torn down many an athlete. For some, this city is a fishbowl of unending flashbulbs, noise and confusion. Occasionally, someone arises to embody the 24-7 nature of New York. Their every move on the field, on the court or across the ice is in complete concert with the city that never sleeps.
Dominic Moore is one of them.
Sporting venues in this city can be chilly to the athlete branded with the burden of the pariah or the scapegoat, but something magical happens when a New York fan base connects with a player in a remarkable way. That outpouring of adoration isn’t exclusive to iconic stars such as Babe Ruth, Mark Messier, Mariano Rivera, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Piazza, Joe Willie Namath or King Henrik Lundqvist.
This city really loves the scrappers with big hearts that outweigh their athletic gifts. John Starks, Don Mattingly, Adam Graves and Thurman Munson aren’t Hall of Famers, but their intense spirits reflected the daily hustle of New Yorkers scurrying across subways stations, navigating the pavement. Yankees captain Derek Jeter has perfectly blended boundless hustle and top-level performance for two decades. Jeter’s Yankees and the New York Football Giants stand together at top of the New York sports landscape.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are New York’s community team. Their fan base has woven a unique niche in this city. When Madison Square Garden is filled with fans clad in blue, red and white sweaters, bandwagon jumpers and hangers on are scarce. The average Rangers fan can proudly recite the Blueshirts’ history inside-and-out.
Moore, 33, has come to personify the uncommon connection between the Rangers and their ardently loyal fan base. His story of perseverance tugs hard at the heart strings.
Fresh out of Harvard University, Moore made a three-assist debut for the Rangers on November 1, 2003 at Bell Centre. The versatile forward immediately impressed the Blueshirts faithful with his all-out effort. An offseason trade in the summer of 2006 sent Moore to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Thus began a long and emotional seven-year journey back to the city.
Trade winds blew Moore from one NHL town to another. His wandering career aligned perfectly with the old country tune “I’ve Been Everywhere.” Moore had represented New York, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay and San Jose. Standing alongside him every step of the way was wife Katie Moore, the strong-willed soul mate who Dominic would often describe as “his rock.”
Three games into the 2012 playoffs, Moore took a sudden leave of absence from the Sharks. Katie had been diagnosed with a rare form of incurable liver cancer. She had always provided Dominic her full support behind the scenes. Dominic immediately put his Stanley Cup ambitions on hold, taking an 18-month leave from the game of hockey to be by Katie’s side.
Courageously, an upbeat Katie put her full devotion into planning the couple’s dream home in Cambridge, M.A. On August 25, 2012, Katie was physically well enough to come home. Dominic and close friends had finished Katie’s plans, and welcomed Katie to her new home. After years of moving from city to city, Dominic and Katie finally had a place to call their own. A surprised Katie wore a beaming smile as the homecoming was captured on home video.
Having already had her stomach removed, the worst of her cancer reared its ugly head near Christmas. Katie’s vital organs began shutting down. Eventually, it claimed Katie’s life on January 7, 2013.
The Rangers and a number of NHL franchises had extended offers to Moore ahead of the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season. When Dominic was ready to refocus his attention to the game of hockey, the Rangers kept their promise and signed Moore to a one-year contract worth $1 million in advance of the 2013-14 season.
Sometimes, people are meant to be in a certain place in their lives. That was the case for Moore. Coming back to New York brought healing after he had gone through hell.
“Driving up to Saw Mill, I was like — man, this seems like yesterday,” Moore said during training camp. “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.”
RANGERS FANS EMBRACED MOORE IN 2013 RETURN AND THE FEELING WAS MUTUAL
Returning to New York revived Moore’s competitive drive. His journey had come full circle, back to where it all began. As the one who had gotten away from the Rangers, Moore’s career was given a second wind with the team that had originally drafted him and given him his NHL debut.
Moore busted his tail on every shift during his comeback season. His apparent hustle and rugged penalty-killing efforts had brought back memories for Rangers fans that enjoyed his first stint with the Blueshirts. Additionally, younger Rangers fans quickly took notice of Moore’s all-out desire. His inspirational story would eventually capture the hearts of New Yorkers unfamiliar with hockey or the Rangers.
Alongside Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett, Moore’s presence made the Rangers’ fourth line arguably the best in the league. Moore collected 18 points in 73 regular season games and eight points in 25 playoff games. Statistics in no way could properly illustrate Moore’s value to the Rangers during their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.
Following the conclusion of a five-game Stanley Cup defeat to the Los Angeles Kings, Moore described his appreciation for the support of Rangers fans after an emotional comeback season.
“Even when I was a younger player, I felt that the fans embraced me in a certain way,” Moore said on June 16. “I was always grateful for that. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come back here. There’s no doubt, that’s something I’m very thankful for.”
Say what you’d like about New York sports fans. They certainly have a big heart. Moore has forged a unique connection with this city. This summer, Moore could become an unrestricted free agent, but he’s meant to play in the Original Six sweater of the Rangers.
MOORE AWARDED 2013-14 MASTERTON TROPHY AT NHL AWARDS
On Tuesday night at the 2014 NHL Awards gala in Las Vegas, Moore was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The award is annually given to played adjudged to have displayed “a high degree the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Moore took the moment to express his appreciation for the support of his family, teammates and the Rangers organization.
“Perseverance is something that doesn’t happen on your own,” Moore said. “It’s something that is a team thing. I’d like to thank my family, my friends, the Rangers organization, my teammates.”
He then shared the award with Katie, the woman whose eternal spirit will never leave him. She will continue to be his inspiration and “his rock.”
“I’ve had a lot of good examples of perseverance of the years,” Moore said. “None more so than my wife Katie. So this award is very meaningful and I’m very thankful. Thank you.”
Moore is the fifth Ranger to receive the Masterton Trophy, joining Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert, Anders Hedberg and Adam Graves.
MOORE TO HOST SECOND ANNUAL ‘SMASHFEST’ IN TORONTO
On July 24, Moore will be hosting his second annual ping-pong charity fundraiser in downtown Toronto at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Last year’s event raised in excess of $100,000 for concussion and cancer research.
Rangers teammates Derick Brassard, Cam Talbot, Brian Boyle, Kevin Klein and Justin Falk are among players scheduled to appear at the event. More information and ticket details can be found at smashfest.ca.
To learn more about Katie Moore’s life and everlasting legacy, please visit the Katie Moore Foundation at katiemoore.org.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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