Sunday afternoon the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced that Rangers forward Dominic Moore is its nominee for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Each team has one nominee for the award which is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport of ice hockey.
"(Perseverance) is a word I have a lot of respect for, and I think it's been something that I've tried to bring to the table throughout my career and my life," Moore told reporters prior to Sunday's game with the Edmonton Oilers. "It's also something I saw first-hand, a strong example with my wife. That's another reason why it's a trait that I have so much respect for, and that's why I am honored to be recognized for this award that means a lot."
Moore sat out all of last season to at first care for his cancer-stricken wife, Katie, and then to mourn her tragic passing. After much soul-searching, he decided to return to the NHL for his ninth professional season, signing with the Rangers as a free agent last summer.
Moore has appeared in 66 of the Rangers' 75 games to date this season, and has scored six goals while totaling 18 points with a +1 plus/minus mark. He has anchored the team's fourth line, one that has been referred to several times by head coach Alain Vigneault as the team's "best" in recent games, and is one of the Blueshirts' most important penalty killers.
"I think you definitely appreciate the little things a lot more when you take that much time off and go through different experiences," explained the 33 year-old Moore, who was originally a third round pick by the Rangers in the 2000 NHL Draft. "As positive as I was trying to be the first 25-30 games I played--and I got hurt--it was definitely a battle; and that emotionally was a part of the whole process, too. I am grateful for my teammates and the support through that; and I feel much better now."
Four Rangers have won the Masterton Trophy previously. Jean Ratelle was the first to do so in 1971, followed by Rod Gilbert five years later in 1976. Anders Hedberg was the 1985 recipient; and the most recent Ranger to earn the distinction of winning this highly-respected award was Adam Graves in 2001.
Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild, who has battled multiple sclerosis, was the 2013 recipient of the Masterton Trophy.
"I am very appreciative of the nomination," said Moore. "I'm appreciative of a lot of things--just playing in general and having the support I've gotten throughout the year from the Rangers as an organization, my teammates, and support from the fans. This is something I'm grateful to be considered for. It's an award I have a lot of respect for."