These have not been an easy few months for Dominic Moore.
He was traded, had his nose broken in a fight, and most recently has been awaiting a new home as a free agent since July 1. It will be potentially his sixth different team since leaving Toronto at the 2009 trade deadline.
The most difficult part of his season, however, came near the end when his wife, Katie, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer and underwent extensive surgery.
Despite all of the turmoil, Moore – who missed the final two playoff games with the San Jose Sharks to be with his family – continued to work with the NHL Players’ Association to put together a charity Ping-Pong tournament that raised more than $20,000 for concussion research on Thursday night in Toronto.
Taking part were 18 current and former NHLers, headlined by Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier, Eric Lindros and Jason Spezza. Several others, like Claude Giroux, were in attendance as spectators.
All involved spoke to the need for more research and awareness about hits to the head in a sign that players are taking up the fight against concussions more than ever.
“I know this has been a big issue in the media over the past few years, but it’s been an even bigger one among the players,” said Mathieu Schneider, a former player and current NHLPA executive. “We’ve lost a lot of friends from the game to concussions.”
“When Mooresy asked me to be a part of this, it was a no-brainer, no pun intended,” Stamkos said. “It’s a very important issue in our game. We want to learn as much as we can about it and raise awareness starting in youth hockey and up to the pro ranks.”
While Moore himself hasn’t suffered a concussion, he has become familiar with the effects of them from his brother, Steve, who was tackled from behind by Todd Bertuzzi in an infamous incident in 2004 that continues to make its way though the court system.
Steve Moore, a 25-year-old rookie with the Colorado Avalanche at the time, never returned to hockey after the hit.
“Every one of us knows someone close to them or a teammate that’s gone through it,” Dominic Moore said. “People think it’s an injury that happens during your career, but these are things that stick around decades later and show up in a different way. It’s a degenerative thing.”
Several retired players taking part in the event also had their careers cut short by head injuries, with Nick Kypreos and Lindros prominent examples of players who suffered serious concussions in an era where there wasn’t as heightened an awareness about them.
Lindros, in particular, was criticized for being injury-prone and overcautious throughout his career, something that would be less likely now given the growing knowledge about the long-term effects of head injuries.
“I’m not going to look backward at it,” Lindros said of how his concussions and recovery were perceived a decade ago. “Sometimes things take a little bit longer than people had once thought. I feel good. I feel strong. I’m happy with that. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Dominic Moore said his wife continues to recover well – a process that will take another few months – and that he is content to wait out free agency for now.
After jumping from team to team so often the past few years, he is looking for the right situation rather than simply the highest offer.
“I’m just taking a patient approach,” he said.
The proceeds from Thursday’s event benefited brain injury research at both the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and the Matthew Gfeller Center at the University of North Carolina.
The winners on the night were Daniel Winnik in the doubles event – where players were paired with fans – and Ryan Shannon in singles. Other players taking part in the tournament were Brett Connolly, Logan Couture, Zenon Konopka, Teddy Purcell, Joe Reekie, Joel Ward, Kevin Weekes, Wojtek Wolski and Rob Zamuner.
Moore hopes to play host to the event annually every off-season.
“I would love for it to get bigger and better every year,” he said.