At least the schedule did Matt Moulson a favor. It brought him to Madison Square Garden for a game Thursday night against the Rangers, which meant he could go back to his Long Island home Wednesday. Seeing his family, including the son who will be three weeks old Friday, he said, "Made me miss them a little less."
And seeing another dinner guest made him miss that person a little more. John Tavares was over again, as he had been on Sunday, just before the Islanders traded the captain's best friend for Thomas Vanek. "It was almost like saying goodbye all over again. It was sad all over again," Moulson said after he completed the morning skate with his fellow Sabres.
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Moulson, who turns 30 Friday, is not sure if he still will be with the rebuilding Sabres after the trade deadline in March. He certainly isn't focusing on where he will be after he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. At the moment, he is just trying to do the best he can without looking backward.
"Me and my wife, we always knew it was a possibility," he said, referring to a trade. "But I believed in my heart that things would work out. So even though I said it was a possibility, I didn't think it was actually going to happen. But so be it. That's what happens in sports. I've moved on."
Typically, on the ice, he moved quickly. In his Sabres debut Monday, he scored two goals. The next morning, Tavares said, "I'm not really surprised. He's going to find his way, like he always has. He has overcome a lot in his career. It's good to see him get off on the right foot in Buffalo."
Moulson was held without a shot Thursday night in the Sabres' 2-0 loss to the Rangers.
Aside from parting with Tavares, Kyle Okposo (he and his wife are godparents to baby George Benjamin Moulson) and many other Long Islanders inside and outside the organization, the hard part for Moulson is knowing that he paid his dues, then had to leave a team that looks as if it finally is on the verge of something more.
"We all were kind of growing together and getting better together. That's tough, but you get over it pretty quickly I think," he said. "The young guys here are much like when I first went to the Islanders, a lot of energetic guys, enthusiastic about playing in the NHL, wanting to learn and get better. I love being in situations like that and I love talking. So sharing the experiences I've had with these guys, it's been fun so far."
Not totally fun. Even being in a hockey household -- Moulson's father-in-law, Mike Backman, played for the Rangers and his brother-in-law, Jonathan Quick, is the Kings' goalie -- lessened the sting for his wife, Alicia, who also is watching their 14-month-old daughter.
"Having to pick up and move your life isn't easy, but people have obviously done it many times before in professional sports,'' Moulson said. "She knows it's a business. As gut-wrenching as it was, you get over it pretty quickly."
At least he got an assist from the schedule this week. "I had to pick up my winter coat," he said. "It's freezing in Buffalo."