forward David Moss
certainly has come a long way since the days of flipping pies at the local pizzeria in Livonia, Mich.
He's doing the hockey thing now with the Calgary Flames
, riding shotgun as a second-line left wing, alongside center Craig Conroy
and Curtis Glencross
. Talk about a career move, eh?
"I didn't even know if I was ever going to be picked in the (2001) draft," Moss told NHL.com. "I knew I was rated by Central Scouting, but I was way down the list and didn't expect to be drafted. I was chosen on the second day and was actually sleeping at the time."
Not until his mother burst into the room with the good news was Moss aware that he was even being considered. Moss was ranked No. 140 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, but wasn't selected by the Flames until the seventh round, with pick No. 220.
"My mom woke me up and said I had gotten drafted and I was in shock," Moss said. Not to mention, he was also a little bleary-eyed.
"It was very exciting, and I quit my job at the local pizza place the next day since I knew my life was about to change," he said. "I knew my career was headed in a different direction at that point and I began to focus on hockey a lot more."
Moss spent a season with Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League prior to the draft, posting 20 goals and 38 points in 51 games. He wasn't flashy -- just a consistent workaholic with some offensive skill.
It's that style of play that elevated Moss up the Flames' depth chart so quickly following four seasons at the University of Michigan and another with the Flames' American Hockey League affiliate in Omaha. Really, though, who would have mistaken the one-time pizza man as the player to eventually set a Flames record as the only rookie to score in his first three games on the job?
In 2005-06, his first pro season with Omaha, Moss finished third on the team with 48 points (21 goals) in 63 games. He also led the Knights with 16 power-play goals, placing third in the league in that category. On Dec. 19, 2006, Moss was recalled by the Flames and scored the game-winner in his NHL debut, against the Los Angeles Kings
"I remember ‘Boyder’ (Dustin Boyd
) had the puck and we kind of went in on a two-on-two," Moss said. "He went wide and I kind of went to the net. He made a great play and really, all I had to do was kind of just tap it in."
Moss was sent back to Omaha three days later, but was recalled Dec. 26 and scored his second career goal in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver. The next night he scored again in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Canucks. He finished with 10 goals, 18 points and 12 penalty minutes in 41 games with the big club.
This season, Moss has become a regular under Keenan and has established career highs with 19 goals, 18 assists, 8 power-play goals, 4 game-winning goals and 37 points, which ranks 10th on the team.
"I've been given a great opportunity by the coaches, and when you combine that with playing with some great players, it's been a dream come true," Moss said. "I've been able to get some good breaks this year."
He averages just over 13 minutes and 20 shifts a game for Keenan.
"(Keenan) brings accountability," Moss said. "One of the things is you have to be consistent. I think he realizes that, night in and night out, things aren't going to go well all the time, but as long as the work ethic is there and you're working hard and playing the system, that's what he wants. Really, that's the one thing I've really tried to work on this year -- just coming to the rink, working hard and trying to do all the other things right. The goals just are kind of a result of that work."
Moss said his four years at Michigan, where he played for legendary coach Red Berenson
, was crucial to his development as a player and person. As a senior in 2004-05, Moss received the school's Howard Colby Award for his sportsmanship and set a career high with 20 assists. He ended the season with 21 multi-point games and 30 points.
"I think Michigan did prepare me for the pros," he said. "Not everyone is ready to go to the NHL at a young age and I certainly wasn't, so I needed the four years to kind of mature and work on my game. At Michigan, you definitely learn to play at both ends of the rink, which is something that I think has helped me in my pro game."
It also helps that Moss has had a leader to look up to in Flames captain Jarome Iginla
"I think he's been great ever since I got here," Moss said. "I think not only on the ice, but off the ice he's an even better person. I think all the guys look up to him and you watch the way he plays and it inspires guys. He's one of the best leaders in the game today."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com