By Dan Hickling
Special to newyorkrangers.com
The March 6, 2004, trade that brought Blair Betts to the Rangers also brought another player who could figure prominently in the team's future.
At the time of the trade, Greg Moore was one of Calgary's unsigned draft picks playing in college. In the two years since, his potential soared to the point where the solidly built right wing from Lisbon, Maine, appears poised for a bright future in the NHL.
For instance, he's taken the University of Maine to a pair of Frozen Four appearances, including this year, when he captained the Black Bears as far as the national semifinals.
He also led Maine in goal scoring the past two seasons, firing in 28 this year. Five of those were game-winners.
Along the way, Moore picked up All-America honors and was tabbed a Hobey Baker Finalist.
When Maine needed a clutch goal, chances were good that Moore would find a way to get it.
Then, after the Black Bears' NCAA run came to an end, Moore was signed by the Rangers and made a smooth transition into the Hartford Wolf Pack lineup during the final days of the regular season.
He's been there ever since.
"It was a pretty quick transition," he said after scoring the game-winner against Portland in Game 4 of their Calder Cup playoff series. "But I'm settled in now. Just enjoying the experience."
Success has been a way of life for Moore, going back to his high school days, when he led St. Dominic to back-to-back Maine state titles in 1999-2000.
His play caught the attention of then-USA Hockey coach Mike Eaves, now at Wisconsin, who brought Moore into the National Team Development Program.
"I should be sending (Eaves) a Christmas card every year," he said. "I learned so much during my time there."
From there, his path led to the University of Maine, where he established himself as one of the top native Mainers ever to play for the school.
Still, a player's mettle is truly tested by the playoffs, and for Moore, life was one non-stop postseason run from the beginning of March, when he was still with Maine, until the Pack's season ended on May 14.
And while the stakes have risen with every step, so too, has Moore's play.
"He's gotten into the lineup and has acquitted (himself) well," said Hartford Coach and General Manager Jim Schoenfeld. "(He's one) of the players we have that we're comfortable with (that) we feel gives us the best chance of winning."
Said Moore: "It feels good that the coaches are giving me an opportunity to play every night. I'm thankful for that, and I'm just trying to do my best while I'm out there. It's definitely a lot different. The pro game's a lot faster and a lot more physical. Every shift, you're expected to execute. It's fun, though, and I'm enjoying it."