By Robert Picarello
Growing up in Lisbon, Maine, Greg Moore always dreamed about playing hockey for the University of Maine. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound forward's dream came true when the university came calling in 2002.
The Kinesiology and Physical Education major had a great rookie season for the Black Bears, scoring nine goals and seven assists in 33 games. The freshman frontliner was also named Hockey East Rookie of the Week (11/18/02) after scoring a goal and an assist in back-to-back wins over Northeastern and Boston University. Last year, Moore registered 21 points in 36 games, leading his team in goals with 13 and power play tallies with nine.
The Rangers are hoping their 21-year old prospect can one day be one of their Maine men on campus. Moore was one of the Rangers prospects who was in New York this week taking part in a Prospect Development Camp at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown.
"Greg is a powerful, powerful player," Rangers Head Coach and Vice President of Player Development Tom Renney
said. "He will become, I think, a power forward in the National Hockey League. He has a very deceptive and quick release. He competes hard with his body. He's hard on the forecheck and is a good, smart two-way player."
Rangers Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Personnel Don Maloney
also likes what he sees in Moore. "He's big, he's strong and he skates well. He looks to me like he's ready to play pro hockey. On the other hand, he's going to be the captain of Maine and he's from Maine. So if we sign him, we may never be able to go back in that state again. But he looks terrific out here. What the right thing to do for Greg is a real discussion right now. I know from a hockey vantage point, turning pro makes a lot of sense."
But Moore did not want to predict what is in store for him in his hockey future. He just wanted to concentrate on improving his game at this camp and go from there. "I'm just going to take it day-by-day and see how things go," he said. "Coming in here, I wanted to work down low in the corners and behind the net in the offensive zone and being able to move my feet quicker and come out of the corners or behind the net faster. The skills sessions that we have, where we work on our stickhandling and our skating, has greatly improved my game. I was in Calgary last summer working on the same things and I now take those drills back and I work on them when I get free ice at the university. I think it's helped my hands and my ability to make plays a lot better."
But Moore does not only look at the Prospect Camp as a tool for helping him improve his skills. "It's been a great opportunity for myself and all the other players. We've had a chance to get to know each other and build friendships and understand who's in the program. We also get to know the coaches and how everything is run around here. It's a great opportunity just to get to work with the coaching staff and the players that you hope to play with in the future.
"When camp is over I expect to walk away with a lot of different things. On the ice you learn a lot of different stuff - new drills and little things that you may not get from your team that you play with. You leave here having made friendships and guys will stay in contact with each other and find out how their seasons are going. Also you get more confidence, so when you go back to the team you're playing with you'll feel a little more in shape and have some extra tools to work with."
Moore has all the tools a forward needs to be successful in the NHL. He has a hard-working, competitive approach to the game and is strong on his skates and strong on the puck He has great hockey sense and is a tough, aggressive player to play against. Moore displays good anticipation on the ice and makes sound decisions in all zones. His skills earned him the right to represent the United States at the 2004 World Junior Championships in Finland, where he helped Team USA capture their first-ever gold medal in the tournament. Prior to his college career, he took home a gold medal with the United States Under-18 Team at the World Under-18 Championships, serving as assistant captain of the team.
"I'm known as a power forward, but I'm also a two-way player," Moore said. "I take a lot of pride in playing defensively. At World Juniors for the US Team when we won gold I was more of a third line defensive player. I love the penalty kill. At the University of Maine I'm on the power play in front of the net. I like to drive wide and take defenders wide and shoot from the wings."
Moore was selected by the Calgary Flames in the 2003 NHL Draft with their fifth pick, which was 143rd overall.
"Getting drafted was amazing," Moore admitted. "I actually went down to Nashville for the draft and just to be there was great. As a kid you grow up dreaming of that time and just hearing your name called out is exciting. It's something you work towards for most of your life, so you're just happy that things can continue and you can have a future."
The Rangers hope his future is with them, as they acquired Moore from Calgary on Mar. 6, 2004 along with Jamie McLennan and Blair Betts in exchange for Chris Simon. While Moore doesn't want to get ahead of himself as far as his career goes, he does know one thing - he and the other prospects have a great opportunity on their hands with the New York Rangers committed to a youth movement.
"I know everyone is pretty excited about it," Moore said. "All of us being prospects and knowing that they went out and either traded for us or drafted us is a great feeling. To be able to grow up together and grow together and build relationships is also a good thing. With the youth movement, everyone is excited about what's ahead and knows that there is a big opportunity here with the New York Rangers. I think it motivates guys even more to want to get to the next level."