'Rangers Inside And Out'
By Sean Hartnett
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Like falling dominoes, one big-name NHL star after another penned lucrative, long-term deals as a free-agent frenzy unfolded last Friday.
Huge, headline-grabbing storylines unfolded. Torontonians hailed David Clarkson's arrival as the second coming of beloved gritty captain Wendel Clark. The Toronto Sun ran a front page with "Wendel Clarkson" in bold, complete with a mockup of Clarkson bearing Clark's trademark handlebar mustache and mullet. Jilted Senators fans vented their outrage at iconic captain Daniel Alfredsson for turning his back on Ottawa for a final shot at Stanley Cup glory in the storied uniform of the Detroit Red Wings.
While Clarkson-mania quickly enveloped Toronto and feathers began to fly over Alfie divorcing the Senators after a 17-year marriage, there was another significant story that captured my full attention.
Typically, a fourth-line center signing a one-year deal isn't the most noteworthy of transactions. That's not the case of Dominic Moore returning to hockey after he sat out last season following the loss of his wife, Katie, to liver cancer in January.
"On behalf of my family, I'd like to express our deep appreciation for the overwhelming care and sympathy we have received since my wife's passing on Monday," Dominic said in a January statement. "The example Katie displayed throughout her life and in particular during her illness is a source of continued strength and inspiration for us all, as is the love and support of those around us."
Moore hasn't played an NHL game since April 16, 2012. It was then that he cut his playoff run with the San Jose Sharks short to attend Katie's tests, surgery and treatments.
"While it was disappointing to not be able to compete with my Sharks teammates in the playoffs, my wife's condition and care come first, and I want to thank the Sharks organization, my teammates and their families for the love and support that has been shown to Katie and I during this difficult time," More expressed in a statement through the Sharks.
When Moore returns to the ice in 2013-14, the hockey universe will welcome him back with open arms and pay their respects to a full-effort player who's been through hell and back.
Moore's career has been filled with adversity. On March 8, 2004, brother Steve was playing for the Colorado Avalanche in a heated game against the Vancouver Canucks. In an earlier February game against the Canucks, Steve had blindsided Vancouver captain Markus Naslund with a high hit. A number of the Canucks were out for revenge, targeting Steve throughout their next meeting with the Avs.
What unfolded was one of the most disturbing and infamous moments in NHL history. After the Avalanche took an unassailable 8-2 lead, Bertuzzi began stalking Steve and attempted to goad him into a fight. Moore refused.
Against the orders of head coach Marc Crawford, Bertuzzi took the law into his own hands by cowardly rushing Moore from behind, punching him in the back of the head, driving Steve's head face-first into the ice and piling on top of him. The images are still very difficult to watch today. Steve laid on the ice for 10 minutes as Rogers Arena -- then known as General Motors Place -- fell silent.
Immediately, Steve had suffered a grade three concussion, amnesia, stretching of spinal nerves, vertebrae ligament damage and facial lacerations. At the tender age of 25, Steve Moore's hockey career was over. In the years that would follow it was determined by top neurosurgeons that Steve had suffered permanent brain injury and is plagued by constant, severe headaches.
Despite everything he's been through, Dominic Moore's desire to play the game of hockey hasn't been extinguished. It's the kind of story that will grab your heart and not let go.
FEEL-GOOD STORY OF THE SUMMER
Now at 32, Moore's career has come full circle. Nearly 10 years have passed since Moore made his three-assist NHL debut for the Rangers on November 1, 2003.
On Friday, Moore agreed to a one-year contract to return to New York, the city where his career began as a fresh-faced 22-year-old Harvard graduate.
Former Rangers teammate Kevin Weekes took to Twitter to praise Moore's attributes following the announcement of his deal with the Rangers.
In addition to being a player of tremendous character and mental strength, Moore is a solid two-way player who plays with a tenacious attitude and excels in penalty-kill situations.
Rangers fans who remember him will welcome him back fondly once the Blueshirts return to Madison Square Garden after beginning the 2013-14 season on an extended road stretch.
It will indeed be a sweet, emotion-filled moment when Moore returns to the Garden ice wearing a Rangers sweater. All will be new again.
Please visit the Katie Moore Foundation at http://katiemoore.org/.
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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