Moore matchups not meant to be By Terry Frei
The Denver Post Posted: 02/01/2009 12:30:00 AM MST
A former Harvard Crimson center named Moore from the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, Ontario, had a big night Thursday in the Pepsi Center.
Then the Maple Leafs' Dominic Moore talked with me about that and more, including about what his older brother and former Harvard alumnus, Steve, is doing back home at the approach of the fifth anniversary of his final game for the Avalanche.
"He's spent the better part of the last four years trying to do everything he could to give himself a chance to see if he would be able to play again," said Dominic, who had two goals and an assist in the Leafs' 7-4 win over the Avalanche. "Now that's not plausible, given he hasn't gotten clearance from the medical guys, so now he's sort of at the point where he's trying to decide what to do next."
Steve, now 30, still has a lawsuit pending against Todd Bertuzzi and the Canucks in Ontario. It probably will be settled out of court for several reasons, including the NHL's desire to avoid the spectacle of effectively putting the league and its "code" culture on trial as well.
It has been strange for Dominic for several years, such as when he has played against Bertuzzi during his NHL travels from the Rangers to Pittsburgh to Minnesota, and then to his hometown franchise. But now, two figures in the forefront of the gathering storm that led to the events of March 8, 2004, in Vancouver — Brian Burke and Brad May — both are with the Leafs. Burke, the former Canucks general manager, joined the Leafs in late November. Burke acquired May, he of the infamous "bounty" remark about Steve, from Anaheim on Jan. 7, and it's almost as if Burke and May are attached at the hip pads.
That's got to be awkward, doesn't it?
"No, no, I don't think so," Dominic said. "It's a situation where there's issues lingering because of the legal case, and we're obviously all aware of them, but at the same time that doesn't mean we have any problem with each other. We're all respectful.We deal with each other honestly. That's all you can expect from people."
By going over all of that again — and first — I probably have been unfair to Dominic, because at age 28, he has become a notable story in his own right. He has 11 goals and 31 points and can be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
"I've been through enough to know that I don't bother worrying about things outside my control," he said of the contract situation. "I'll just do my job and see what happens."
In the interim, he is one of three Leafs assistant captains, and that's especially significant because nobody is wearing the "C."
"With Mats Sundin, kind of a legend around Toronto, leaving, they felt it was best to lead by committee this year," Dominic said. "I'm honored to have an 'A.' Being a leader in college and everything, I do enjoy that role."
Moore's play under Ron Wilson has been one of the few bright spots in another down season for the Leafs.
"I was an offensive player in college," Moore said. "With the New York Rangers, it was the 'Millionaires Club,' and I had to kind of find some niche to break through, and that was as a defensive player. Then I sort of got labeled as only a defensive player. That's the way this league works. I credit Ron Wilson for recognizing something and I think I'm slowly rediscovering that offensive side of things that was part of my identity as I was coming up."
Moore said that every time he has played in the Pepsi Center, he has heard from fans telling him to pass along greetings to Steve, and that Steve appreciates the cards and letters he still gets from Avalanche fans, who have done a better job of remembering him than has the team.
I was at the Avalanche- Rangers game in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2, 2003, when Dominic played his second game for New York after his call-up and found himself taking a faceoff against Steve. They had been teammates for two seasons at Harvard but never had been opponents in a game before.
"We didn't say anything," Dominic said that night. "I won the draw and played hockey."
And Steve said: "It was a different experience for me. I'm used to playing with him. It was a lot of fun to have him playing for the Rangers and me here."
We thought it was going to be only the first of many matchups of the Moore brothers in the NHL.
It was the only one.
More on the Moore Brothers…plus Forsberg’s decision by Terry Frei on February 1, 2009 <!-- Closes the thedate div-->
My NHL column on the Maple Leafs’ Dominic Moore, Steve Moore’s younger brother, is in the paper Sunday and can be accessed here. What follows are additional thoughts and material I didn’t have room for in the paper, plus my reaction to Peter Forsberg’s no-go decision.
– Here’s the full Dominic Moore quote, paraphrased in the column, and it came in response to my question about whether it was eerie for him to play in Denver, as he did several times during his stint with the Wild: "I ran into a bunch of people who sent their wishes, and I know Steve really appreciates that. I’ve been out here a bunch of times. When I was still in college, I came out here and skated with the team before I went to school, and it is fun to come back. I know that he really appreciates the letters and things he continues to receive from the people here." That one came with a reporter from Associated Press also listening, and it went out in the wire story.
– All three Moore brothers, Mark, Steve and Dominic, have Harvard diplomas. It doesn’t take one of those to figure out that the NHL would frown on the Avalanche making a public display of support for Steve, who, after all, is suing a one-time fellow NHL player and an NHL team, the Canucks, and who tried to include other individuals (i.e., Brad May, Brian Burke, Marc Crawford) in an original suit that was tossed out in Denver. But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The Avalanche should tell the NHL to mind its own business and plan to honor Steve at a home game in March.
It’s probably poor taste to bring this up, but it wouldn’t be a bad public relations move for a franchise that increasingly needs it and has taken deserved criticism for turning its back on a former player in a sport that takes pride in its one-for-all ethic in the dressing room and on the ice. I’d say do it at the March 4 game against Detroit, because that probably would be a sellout, anyway, and thus the team couldn’t be accused of making the move only to sell tickets. The problem there is that many Red Wings fans would be among the crowd and wearing red that night, so I do think the Avalanche could justify holding the Moore night at another game.
– The third Moore brother, Mark, was a Crimson defenseman and Penguins draft choice whose pro career was derailed by concussion problems (sound familiar?) in the minors. The Steve Moore-Bertuzzi incident is only one of the many issues discussed in his excellent 2006 book, Saving the Game: Pro Hockey’s Quest to Raise its Game from Crisis to New Heights. <!--more-->
– Dominic’s response in the column to my question about playing for a team that has Burke as general manager and May as a teammate was what I expected, and I do believe he understands he needs to separate the professional from the personal, and that even his brother would want it that way. To this day, though, I believe that Burke, for whom I have tons of respect, and who graduated from the Harvard Law School after his college career at Providence, could have headed off the whole incident with some forceful words about how his team would be better off moving on. Yes, you can say the same things about Marc Crawford, but his fiery coaching demeanor is what makes him effective, and his GM knew that and could have stepped in to quiet the passions, rather than at least indirectly adding to the passions with his own rhetoric. Markus Naslund also could have headed it all off. He didn’t. In that sense, I’ve always believe that Bertuzzi, while certainly excessive in a reaction nobody wanted or expected, was a foil in all of this. But now Dominic Moore has Burke for a boss and May as a teammate, and I sure admire him if he’s able to remain a pro at all times about it.
Coincidentally, Bertuzzi again is scheduled to play in Denver on Monday night with the Flames. He missed Calgary’s previous appearance on this Colorado homestand on Jan. 18 with an injury, but he’s back in the lineup.
– Dominic said Steve does come to the Leafs’ games (I’d say it surprises me that the NHL doesn’t put him on a banned list, except that would be a cheap shot): "We grew up in Toronto, so it’s fun for him to watch the Leafs, and more important, for him to watch me. It’s really nice to have him around. I’m sure it’s tough at times for him to watch, but he’s nothing but supportive and happy for me."
I read these articles on Dominic Moore last week. But, admist the Monday gloom I figured that I would post these here and say: Wouldn't he be a smart signing for the Avalanche this off season? Not to sound callous, but I think that signing Steve Moore's younger brother would be a very smart public relations move for the Avs, whose fans still continually boo Bertuzzi when he's in Denver. I think that it could also serve as a sort of unspoken apology for the Brad May signing, as well.
And Moore's numbers thus far this season?
He's 28 years old and has a meager $900k cap hit this season. In 53 games played this season, he has 11 goals, 23 assists for 34 points. He is a +3 with 47 PIM's. He has taken 818 faceoffs, 24th most faceoffs in the league. He has won 53.8% of those draws on 440W 378L.
Sounds like a solid two-way player that wins faceoffs and is thriving in a leadership role. He would be a tremendous upgrade over Tyler Arnason at third line center, and probably a better former Maple Leafs signing than either Darcy Tucker or Andrew Raycroft.