|In his second season, Greg Moore is the breakout player on the hottest team in the AHL.|
In his second season, Moore is the breakout player on the hottest team in the AHL. He has 10 goals and 12 assists and is a plus-16 in 21 games after totaling just eight goals and 17 points with a minus-3 last season.
The key change is what’s missing – like 15 unneeded pounds. Moore dropped from about 225 to 210 over the summer, giving up a little bit of flab but none of his muscle.
“The start of the season is a lot more productive than last year. The big difference is probably my conditioning. I was trying to get a little leaner, more explosive,’’ Moore said. “I have the strength and the power and the endurance to play the power game that I’m used to. I’m more a proactive player. I’m not much of a guy to sit back.’’
Coach Ken Gernander rewarded his player’s commitment by plopping him right in the center of the action. Through four years at Maine and in his first year at Hartford last season, Moore, 23, played mostly right wing. But the Wolf Pack was loaded at that spot this season, so Gernander slid Moore to the middle. Now, he’s directing a line that includes Alex Bourret and Nigel Dawes for a squad that’s won nine of its last 10.
“Definitely, I’ve enjoyed the new position,’’ Moore said. “The first couple games the timing of playing center was a little off. By the third or fourth game, I was comfortable. I think right now I prefer center. I’m having fun at that position. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter.’’
Moore’s game for any kind of play, as was evidenced by his patience during his first NHL elbow-rubbing. He was called up by the Rangers Nov. 5, but sent down two days later without playing. He was tabbed by New York again Nov. 12, but that stay lasted a day and didn’t include any game time. Finally, after a recall Nov. 20, he got his first NHL minutes the next night, against Tampa Bay.
“At first it was like red light, green light. I want to play. But I knew each time was dependent on the injured person,’’ Moore said. “It was just nice to be around (the team). By the time I did play the game, I felt pretty calm, pretty comfortable. It was a blessing that I had those first couple times up.’’
Tragedy averted for Crunch -- Syracuse Crunch goalie Dan LaCosta and defenseman Jon Landry were walking around on crutches last weekend, and they considered themselves lucky to be able to do so.
Those two were among the four Syracuse players on the Elmira Jackals team bus that crashed in Harborcreek, Pa., Nov. 29. Defensemen Jekabs Redlihs and Trevor Hendrikx also were traveling with the team, but they, like the rest of the players on the ECHL Jackals, weren’t badly injured.
The sleeper bus was returning from a game in Cincinnati when the driver rear-ended a tractor-trailer about 4:30 a.m. on I-90. The bus rumbled off the road, down an embankment and came to rest in a field.
“Of course you have in mind, ‘All right, this is it (the end),’’’ said Redlihs, who was in a bunk. “But it (the bus) stopped. It was like, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’’’
The bus driver was seriously hurt and hospitalized, but the random location of the accident likely prevented a large-scale tragedy. Had the mishap occurred 100 yards earlier or later, the bus could have veered into a heavily wooded area or flipped down a steep hill.
LaCosta, who was going to be recalled by Syracuse the next day, will miss a month with a sprained ankle. Landry is in worse shape, with a torn ACL that could cost him the season.
“It could have been a lot worse,’’ LaCosta said. “I’m thankful I’m able to walk away from there. It was a miracle the bus didn’t flip or catch on fire.’’
Anderson soldiers on -- Wolves coach John Anderson will have to remain content with just winning.
His teams do a lot of that, but not enough to put him behind an NHL bench yet, though. Anderson’s latest personal setback came a couple weeks ago, when Don Waddell, coach/general manager for parent club Atlanta, told him the Thrashers’ search for a new coach will remain within the organization for now.
Anderson, who is hired by the Wolves, had asked Waddell to consider him for the position when Waddell replaced Bob Hartley six games into the season.
“I was very disappointed,’’ Anderson said of the cold shoulder. “The reality is my life doesn’t change one bit. I’m still coaching with a great organization in a great city.’’
Anderson, in his 11th season with the team, has a record of 470 wins, 265 losses, 24 ties, 27 overtime losses and 44 shootout losses. He has taken the Wolves to one Calder Cup and two Turner Cups. Chicago’s total of 35 points this season is second in the AHL.
“I really, in my heart, don’t believe it (getting an NHL job) has anything to do with winning,’’ Anderson said. “There’re guys that have never won who get hired. To me, it’s important. That’s all that matters. I don’t win because I’m hoping to get a better job. I win because I want to win. That’s the bottom line – being as good as you can be wherever you are.’’
Around the AHL -- The AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee has tabbed Noel Price, Tim Tookey and the late Steve Kraftcheck as its third group of inductees. The Class of 2008 will be honored as part of the festivities at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton. …The league has announced that next year's all-star event will be in Worcester. ... It’s a good time to be an Alexandre Picard these days. The Phantoms defenseman by that name had goals in four-straight games last week. … The Boston Red Sox brought the 2007 World Series championship trophy to New Hampshire for the Manchester Monarchs’ contest against Rockford on Dec. 1. ... Grand Rapids’ 1-0 win at Milwaukee on Dec. 2 was the Griffins’ first regulation victory over the Admirals in 14 tries (including playoffs), going back to Apr. 15, 2006. … The Philadelphia Phantoms were held without a shot in a period for the first time in franchise history in the first period of a game Nov. 2 in Toronto. That’s a total of 2,706 periods of hockey with at least one shot until that point. … Albany River Rats goaltenders have already posted six shutouts this season, tying the franchise record set in 2004-05. …Three Albany defensemen scored their first goals of the season last week - J.D. Forrest, Tim Conboy and Brett Carson. … Including his 3-for-3 effort this season, Providence’s David Krejci is 13-for-17 (76.5 percent) on shootout attempts in his AHL career. … Syracuse forward Derek MacKenzie’s short-handed penalty-shot goal against Lake Erie on Dec. 2 was his second of that kind this season. He also pulled it off Oct. 24 at Albany. … Geoff Platt has found the score sheet in every game since putting on a Portland Pirates uniform, recording seven goals and nine assists in nine contests. Platt was traded to Portland from Syracuse Nov. 15.