For Dominic Moore, no heart-wrenching loss could be as life-altering as the one he and his family already have endured.
Moore, who will resume his career with the Rangers, sat out last season after his wife, Katie, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer in 2012. She passed away at the age of 32 in January after a nine-month battle.
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"The one thing is, I'm grateful for the time we had," Moore said in a conference call Wednesday. "And in a way those months were the most special months that we had with each other, that anyone could ever ask for . . . despite it being the most difficult and painful months that you could possibly expect or deal with."
During the playoffs in 2012, when Moore played in San Jose, his wife's diagnosis made him step away from the game he played as a youngster in Ontario, through Harvard University and Hartford and nine NHL cities. When the NHL lockout was drawing to a close, the Rangers expressed interest, but he wasn't ready, and Katie died a day after the labor struggle was settled.
"It was a very, very difficult decision to not play. But at the same time it was definitely the right decision," said Moore, who agreed to a one-year contract Friday.
"The months after that gave me a chance to regroup and clear my head. If anyone's cared for someone with cancer -- it's a battle that the whole family is in. It's something that, after you've been through that, you kind of need some time to reorganize. I don't know what the right words is, just kind of regroup."
And slowly, he has.
"Hockey is a small world, and Katie and I were very lucky to have the network of support and friends and family," Moore said.
Moore, 32, a center, was drafted by the Rangers in 2000. He was a rookie with Henrik Lundqvist -- the only Ranger left from that 2005-06 season. Moore has been working out in Boston, skating and cross-training with the Harvard tennis team and setting up a research foundation, katiemoore.org.
"There's no doubt that coming back to New York was definitely what I wanted to happen," said Moore, a two-way pivot who can kill penalties and averaged almost 14 minutes a game in 2011-12.
"I have great memories from over the years of playing at Madison Square Garden, both as a Ranger and as a visiting player. It's always been one of my favorite places to play, if not the favorite. The good news is I've used that time to get myself in great shape, and I'm ready and raring to play again."