Dominic Moore trying to get back up to speed for Rangers
PHOENIX - For Dominic Moore, another chapter in his hockey career -- and his life -- began Thursday night.
Moore pulled on a jersey again for a regular-season NHL game -- his 531st -- wearing the colors of the Rangers, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2000 while he was at Harvard University, and the jersey that he last wore in the 2005-06 season.
Since then, there have been other jerseys and other colors, from the Penguins to the Wild, to the Leafs and Sabres, to the Panthers and Canadiens, to the Lightning and Sharks.
While Moore was playing with the Sharks in the playoffs in April 2012, he left the team to be with his wife, Katie, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. They spent months together as Katie underwent treatment. She died at 32 in January, and since then he has spoken of her strength and her resolve.
Moore needed to regroup, he said, and didn't play in the lockout-shortened season, although the Rangers sought him out.
"Everything kind of came to a head, unfortunately, at an inopportune time," he said. "It was a very, very difficult decision to not play. But at the same time it was definitely the right decision."
As the wounds began to heal, he started working out in Boston, and last July, Moore, an unrestricted free agent, returned to the Rangers on a one-year, $1-million contract.
Off the ice, he started a foundation to honor Katie and raise money for rare cancer treatment.
In late July, he hosted a Ping-Pong competition attended by players such as Martin St. Louis, David Clarkson, Phil Kessel and Logan Couture and raised $100,000, some of which was dedicated to concussion research.
Moore reported to Rangers camp, played in several exhibition games, killing penalties and winning faceoffs, encouraging teammates on the bench, and found a supporter in new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault prefers to not reveal one-on-one discussions with players, but before Thursday night's season opener, he shared a conversation that he had with Moore on Wednesday.
"I told him I'm extremely pleased by what I saw in training camp," Vigneault said. "For a guy not having played a full year, with what he's been through, he's stepped in, his conditioning, his timing, was very, very good; the more he played, the better he got.
"I still don't think his game is where -- and he felt the same way -- it can be, but where it is now, having not played the year, is very impressive."
"I've been out so long, I got through camp OK," Moore said Thursday after the team's morning skate. "I just have to get some more confidence in what I'm capable of doing."
His best season offensively was in 2008-09 when he totaled 13 goals and 32 assists for Toronto (63 games) and Buffalo (18 games).
Moore, who has 67 goals and 118 assists in his career, skated on the fourth line Thursday night, with J.T. Miller and Derek Dorsett. His No. 28 road jersey simply read "Moore," although he and a young defenseman, John Moore, share the same name. John Moore's No. 17 jersey read: J. Moore.
"Just respect for a veteran," a Rangers staffer said.
No further explanation necessary.