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Moore Adjusting to 'New Normal' as Skating Ramps Up

With Bruins returning to the ice, getting used to COVID-19 protocols is a must

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / - John Moore's 2019-20 season has been anything but conventional.

The 29-year-old's 10th National Hockey League campaign began with him on the shelf as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. Upon his return in early December, the blue liner found himself in and out of the lineup as coach Bruce Cassidy tried to find his best six-pack of defensemen.

And now, with the Bruins returning to Warrior Ice Arena for voluntary workouts following a three-month shutdown, trying to find some sense of normalcy is as difficult as ever.

"It's different, for sure," Moore said during a media conference call on Tuesday afternoon. "But that's the world we live in now. You could go blue in the face complaining about it, but at the end of the day they have our best interests in mind. It's really about adjusting and it's something that's talked about as a group, the teams that will have the most success will be the most comfortable with being uncomfortable."

Moore is one of eight Bruins that have taken part in Phase 2 of the NHL's Return-to-Play format thus far, joining Zdeno Chara and Par Lindholm for on-ice sessions that began last week in Brighton. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and Sean Kuraly have skated in a separate group as the team abides by the strict health protocols that have been put in place as the league attempts to resume its season at some point this summer.

"You don't let any of that get in the way of the work that needs to be done," said Moore, who notched two goal and an assist in 24 games this season. "It's for everyone's safety. You come in, you take your temperature, you do your testing, you go to work, you get on the ice, you go in the weight room, and then it's just like it was before.

"There's certain freckles here and there with the process, but you're learning and you're adapting. I guess that's what it's all about with COVID and the new world that we now live in."

Video: Moore Answers Question From Media On ZOOM

Moore, who has spent the pause at his home in the Boston suburbs, said that while it's been a thrill to be back on the ice in recent days, there are plenty of challenges when it comes to getting back into a groove - especially with those added restrictions. As such, he has been trying to lean on his experiences from a lengthy rehab last fall.

"I think my wife just loves having me out of the house, if I'm being totally honest," Moore quipped. "Unfortunately, I have a little bit of practice with this…[you try to] temper your expectations the first time you're out because it feels like you're wearing someone else's equipment.

"But then understanding that there's a process to returning and building up to where you were and being really focused on what I want to accomplish from a day-to-day standpoint and feeling good about yourself with each and every skate."

The night before each session, Moore has been going over practice plans with Lindholm and Chara, who - along with strength coaches Kevin Neeld and Ken Whittier - has been an invaluable resource as the players attempt to find the right balance in their ramp up to training camp.

"We've been very structured and disciplined in our approach both in the weight room and on the ice, which has helped in terms of focus and attention when we're at the facility," said Moore. "Zdeno is great on that and we lean on him because obviously he's been around for so long. You want to make sure, first of all, that you're not exposing yourself to a serious injury. I think, secondly, you're getting your feet and putting yourself in the best possible scenario to peak when the games start."

When and if the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence later this summer, Moore and the rest of the Bruins know that they have a unique opportunity to take care of some unfinished business from a year ago, as well as bring together a city and a region that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

"We still have an amazing opportunity to go and compete for a Stanley Cup. We're very grateful for that, understanding some of the challenges in the real world that exist and how lucky we are to go out and play a game hopefully soon," said Moore. "You take that a step further and what that would represent for our society. It gives us a chance for people to get away from whatever is happening in their lives. Amidst all of this stuff, there are some very real-world issues that have really affected a lot of people.

"One thing that's really apparent, being a Boston Bruin, is how much the Bruins mean to people all throughout New England. To give them something to cheer for and root for would be a really special thing."

Family First

Like Moore, Lindholm remained in the Boston area during the NHL's pause after the birth of his daughter on April 8. While the shutdown was certainly not ideal, it has provided the 28-year-old Sweden native with some important family time.

"It's been really special for me…haven't really been quarantined by myself, been really busy with that," Lindholm said during a season ticket holder town hall on Tuesday. "I actually don't mind the quarantine. It's been kind of nice having that much time with my daughter. It's been special. But, of course, I want to get back to hockey. I'm excited to get things going again."

When and if games resume this summer, they will be held in two yet-to-be-determined hub cities, meaning the players will likely be forced to spend extended time away from their families, a scenario that will no doubt be challenging for everyone involved.

"That's something that's been talked about through the PA from various guys. It's really a concern for a lot of guys," said Moore. "You'd hate for something to happen and your family couldn't join you. Obviously, everyone's health and safety are the priority right now. That's been said from everyone whether that's through the league or the PA.

"We hope, somehow, they can join us. But if not, this is a sacrifice that no one really saw coming. It's an opportunity to go and compete for a Stanley Cup."

Video: Lindholm answers STH Questions in Tuesday's Town Hall

A Time for Thought

Moore acknowledged that the time away from the rink has provided an opportunity to reflect on issues that are much larger than hockey. Nightly conversations with his wife, Elizabeth, have centered around how to properly raise their two young daughters, Milly and Lucy, in the midst of so much tumult surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movements that followed the murder of George Floyd.

"As a Christian, I'm always examining myself and trying to be better and live a life of integrity," said Moore. "I don't think that's anything you arrive at, I think that's something that you strive at and you examine on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. Zdeno and Patrice [Bergeron] showed just how special of people they were with everything they said and stood up for in the last couple of weeks [when it comes to social justice].

"Again, there's things that are bigger than hockey and a lot has been going on. You try and understand how lucky you are to play a game for a living but also understand the world that we live in and be the best person that you can.

"That's something my wife and I talk about raising two young daughters, are we teaching them the right things? Are we making sure we're instilling the right values in them?"

Mic 'Em Up 

With no fans expected in the stands when the NHL resumes this summer, the league and its television partners have been hard at work trying to determine how to best present its product to fans, while also trying to draw in new viewers. One way to do that may be to expand the number of players and personnel that are mic'd up during a game.

Count Moore as being all in, especially if Brad Marchand is involved.

"I think it would be great for the sport if there is increased microphones, cameras, what have you, that can deliver a better product to people that otherwise may have wanted to be in the stadium," said Moore. "You think of a guy like Marchy and you might win an Emmy with some of the stuff they might pick up with him. I'm all for it."

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