EDMONTON, Alberta - The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy honors "a high degree of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey," and Rangers center Dominic Moore, who was nominated for that award Sunday, feels deeply about one of those words:
"That's a word I have a lot of respect for," Moore said. "It's been something I've tried to bring to the table throughout my career and my life, but it's also something I saw firsthand, a strong example, with my wife. That's another reason why it's a trait I have so much respect for."
The Ontario native took a leave of absence from the San Jose Sharks during the 2012 playoffs to be with his wife, Katie, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She died on Jan. 7, 2013, and Moore sat out the 2012-13 season, sorting out his life and setting up a cancer research foundation.
Moore was nominated in a landslide vote by the New York Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The last Ranger to win the trophy was Adam Graves in 2000-01.
Moore, who said he was "humbled" by the nomination and expressed gratitude to the league, the organization, his teammates and the fans for their support, signed a one-year contract last July. He has six goals and 12 assists in a season that not only marks a return to the team that drafted him out of Harvard in 2000, but a return to the NHL, where he has played for nine teams.
"I think you appreciate the little things a lot more when you take so much time off," he said. "As much as I was taking stock of those little things, it was definitely a struggle, at least with my game."
"As positive as I was trying to be in the first 25, 30 games, I got hurt and it was definitely a battle, and that, emotionally, was part of the whole process. I feel much better."
Coach Alain Vigneault praised Moore for having "done an outstanding job at handling his personal situation and being able to come back after a full year."
"He progressed every day, he's gotten better on the ice . . . He's done a lot of the things I want veteran players to do: hold yourself accountable, hold your teammates accountable. He's been a real force."