The transition from New York to Pittsburgh has been a relatively easy one for Dominic Moore.
After all, Penguins fans have embraced the blue-collar style he brings to the ice as a solid two-way center. People in a hard-working city appreciate a hard-working player such as Moore.
“I like to be as complete a player as I can and make plays at both ends of the rink. Basically, the role is to help the team win games, whatever way that might be,” he said. “There certainly is a hard-working mentality to this city, too. Obviously, they respect that and that’s something I try to bring to what I do. It’s definitely nice to know there are people who understand that, for sure.”
The 6-foot, 195-pounder had nine goals and nine assists in 82 games last year with the Rangers as a rookie. The 26-year-old came to Pittsburgh from Nashville after the Predators acquired him from New York in July.
“I love it here so far. It’s been great,” he said. “We have a great group of guys here. A young team, but we’re having a lot of fun and getting better with every game. It’s been great.”
One Penguins player whose eyes perked up when he learned about the trade for Moore is rookie Noah Welch. That’s because he and Moore played college hockey together for two years at Harvard (2001-03).
“When I was at Harvard, I thought for sure that Dom was going to play in the NHL and hoped that I would some day, too,” Welch said. “He was a Rangers guy at the time and I was with Pittsburgh. I never thought we’d be teammates again at this level, so it was a really, really nice treat when I found out this summer that he got traded to Pittsburgh. It gave me extra motivation to make sure I was here.”
Moore has four goals and four assists in 22 games for the Penguins so far this season. And, even though he hasn’t been called on to score highlight-reel goals, that doesn’t mean he can’t. Moore tallied 64 goals, 83 assists and 147 points in 128 games in his Harvard career.
“He was pretty much always the best player on the ice, no matter who we played,” Welch said. “He was definitely a leader on our team and he helped me out a lot. When I was a freshman, he was one of the guys that right away I got off to a good start with and became pretty good buddies with. He scored some really, really pretty goals – some unbelievable goals in college. When I think of him, the first thing that comes to my mind are three or four goals that were just unbelievable.”
Nevertheless, Welch is not surprised Moore has excelled as a third-line center who must be responsible on both ends of the rink.
“I think that just shows the complete package he has. He has a lot of different dimensions to his game,” he said. “At this level, you play a role and he’s playing a role for us right now. I think that’s only going to get bigger as he gets more years and experience in this league. I can see him in the next couple of years becoming a first- or second-line guy and putting up numbers, but also being really reliable defensively and on draws. I think he has a huge upside and he’s only getting better game to game.”
Right now, though, Moore is just enjoying helping the Penguins win games.
“Everyone here seems to be very friendly and laid back. That makes it fun to be around, for sure,” he said. “I kind of enjoy Pittsburgh. It’s still a big city, but it has a small-town feel to it. It’s a big sports town, which I love about it. That’s certainly been a pleasure.”
Moore had little trouble transitioning to the Penguins’ style of play.
“It’s not a matter of scrapping everything you learned. A lot of the systems are pretty similar. There are some changes, obviously,” he said. “The coaching staff has done a great job trying to get everyone on the same page. I feel like, with the talent we have in this room, if everyone sort of buys into doing those team concept things, we could be very tough to deal with.”
Moore is looking forward to playing his ex-teammates for the third time this season.
“It was really fun playing in New York [on Oct. 12]. It was great to be back and get that last-second victory. We were all pretty excited to get that win. That was a big thrill,” he said. “I can’t wait to play them again. It should be a lot of fun. You want to win, but it’s a little different than playing any other team.”
The Ontario native comes from a talented family of hockey players. His two older brothers, Mark and Steve, were also NHL draft choices. Coincidentally, Mark Moore was drafted by the Penguins in 1997 and spent part of the 2000-01 season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Steve was drafted by Colorado and spent parts of three seasons with the Avalanche.
Moore, who majored in sociology at Harvard, got to skate one year with both siblings when all three suited up for the Crimson during the 1999-00 season.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old is excited to be a part of the Penguins’ promising future.
“Pittsburgh is a great city right now, but you see a lot of the areas around the city being revitalized,” he said. “I think maybe the same thing can be said about the Penguins. We’re a good team right now, but we’re in the process of developing ourselves as well.”