By Matt Calamia
The story of Dominic Moore has certainly had its sad chapters the past couple of years, but the latest one is currently filled with triumph and a bittersweet happiness.
While nothing can overcome the tragedy Moore faced over the last two years following the passing of his wife, Katie after a battle with a rare form of liver cancer, the last eight months since he returned to the National Hockey League have been an inspiration for his teammates, fans and the entire sports world. It has also been a time of healing and moving ahead for Moore, with the Rangers current playoff run a time of personal, and collective, triumph for the veteran center.
Moore's game-winning goal for the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, helping New York to its first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years, was a moment straight out of the movies, and perhaps a fitting way for Moore to reach his first-ever Cup final.
“Like any player on the team, you want to do your job,” said the modest Moore, who sported the Broadway Hat after the team’s clincher. “You take pride in doing your job and doing it well. Obviously, in big games like this, every little bit counts.”
It’s been a long road back for Moore, who opted not to play last season following Katie’s death. Instead he created the Katie Moore Foundation, which aims to help patients and families dealing with rare forms of cancer through research, advocacy, and community.
When Moore decided he was finally ready to return to the NHL, he signed a free-agent contract last July with the Rangers, the team that originally drafted him in 2000 and with whom he broke into the NHL some 10 years ago. It took him a while to find his footing and return to form on the ice, but Moore had a strong second half of the season and became a big part of the team, both as a player and as a respected leader.
“I just feel tremendously proud to be a part of this team,” Moore said. “I owe a lot to my teammates for helping me get through this last year and a half. I just feel tremendously proud to be a part of this team, especially amidst the circumstances of going to the Stanley Cup Final.”
As proud as Moore is of his teammates, the feeling is returned in kind to No. 28. Those around him, including linemate Brian Boyle, said Moore, and what he’s been through, have been an inspiration for all since the season began in October.
“I’m lucky to have met Dom and been teammates with him,” Boyle said after Game Six, on which he assisted on Moore’s winner. “We’ve become close and he’s nothing short of an inspiration this year, how he’s played and handled himself.
“We lean on each other. I lean on him a lot,” Boyle added. “He’s a great player and the ultimate team guy. He’s been huge for us, and me as well.”
After scoring six goals and adding 12 assists for 18 points in 73 regular season games, Moore has played an integral role in the Rangers’ success through three rounds of the playoffs, especially against Montreal, when he was used on three separate lines — including the top scoring line — due to various injuries in the lineup. Moore has three goals and seven points through 20 games, with two of those goals being game-winners.
“He’s a big emotional leader for us in our room,” Marc Staal said after Thursday’s win. “He’s played a long time and he has a lot of experience. Throughout this run here, big moments and big games, he’s come up and played a huge role. That’s what we need. It’s great to see, obviously, we’re proud to be his teammate for sure.”
There’s still one more chapter to be written this season. No matter how this particular chapter ends in the Stanley Cup Final, though, Dominic Moore is a winner.