The NHL Awards show is less than three weeks away, and while no one knows who will take home which award there shouldn’t be any doubt that New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore most deserves to win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”, there’s no doubt Moore met all of the criteria to be named one of three finalists, plus more.
I personally believe it’s the battle he faced, and overcame, to return. Moore, a member of the San Jose Sharks in April 2012, walked away from the playoffs to tend to wife, Katie, whose health was rapidly failing. Diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, she fought hard but ultimately succumbed to the disease in January of 2013. Once the 2012 NHL lockout neared its end, teams began contacting the man many call Dom about returning to the game he so loves. Knowing he wasn’t completely healed from the tragedy of losing his wife, Moore declined and spent the next few months reflecting before attempting a comeback.
Even though it might seem risky for an athlete, let alone a hockey player, to turn down potential job offers Moore made the correct decision here. When life throws you curveballs, something it often times does, you’re forced to make difficult decisions. For Moore, the choices were playing without his heart in it or waiting until he could give the game what it requires: his full and undivided attention.
He chose to wait, and the New York Rangers are in the Stanley Cup finals because of it. Think about it. Would Moore have had this much drive and determination less than four months removed from losing the girl he’d loved for many years and married back in 2010? Not likely. But now, a year and a half to two years after going through an extremely difficult time, he seems ready to compete at the highest level again. That was on full display during the Rangers’ Eastern Conference-clinching Game 6 victory, where Dom and his line produced all the offense the team needed.
Jagr and Malhotra, though both equally deserving of being named a finalist, didn’t overcome the same obstacles or face the difficult decisions Moore did in returning to the game. It’s one thing to continue performing at a high level when you’re getting up there in age or come back from multiple eye injuries to play, not necessarily well, yet quite another to leave your team in the midst of a playoff run because there’s something more important that needs to be taken care of and then choose not to return until you’re once again able to give this game every ounce of blood, sweat and tears possible.
What do you think? Is Moore the most deserving finalist to take home the Masterton Trophy? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.