Dominic Moore always loved playing at Madison Square Garden as a visiting player. He did that a lot shuffling around the NHL with eight different teams since being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006. Seven years later, Moore is returning to the New York Rangers after signing a 1-year, $1 million deal on July 5.
It wasn't the easiest of returns for Moore, who hasn't played since the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks. He left the Sharks' series with the St. Louis Blues to deal with a personal matter that was later revealed to be the illness of his 32-year-old wife, Katie.
In January, Katie died after a nine-month battle with liver cancer.
The Rangers had expressed interest in Moore in January, before Katie's passing, but the timing just wasn't right.
“Just the timing of everything at that time just didn’t work out," Moore said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "I think everything kind of came to a head unfortunately at an inopportune time back in January. It was a very difficult decision to not play, but at the same time it was definitely the right decision. The months after that gave me a chance to regroup and to clear my head.
"Anyone [who’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 need some time to re-organize and regroup.”
Moore has used the past six months to work out and get back into hockey shape. Living in Boston, he's even participated in some cross-training with Harvard's tennis team. Away from hockey training, he's been working on starting a foundation, as well as planning the second annual Smash Fest ping pong tournament in Toronto. (Last year's events raised over $30,000 for the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center and Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute.)
The training and charity work have been helpful distractions, but the memory of Katie will always be with Moore.
"I’m grateful for the time we had," he said. "In a way, those months were the most special months we had with each other that anyone could possibly ask for, despite it being the most difficult and painful months anyone could possibly expect or deal with.”
Moore didn't know at first whether or not he'd come back. He didn't want to get ahead of himself, instead choosing to take things one day at a time. He said it's allowed him to focus on the things he can control on a daily basis.
The extended absence away from the game has Moore unsure how his return will go initially, but it isn't a big worry.
“It’s something I’ve done my whole life.”
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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