Cover Story: Dominic Moore

The Maple Leafs centre dishes on returning home, to play for the Leafs for the second time in his career, and why he loved growing up in Thornhill

After 12 years in the National Hockey League, Dominic Moore is coming back home — again — to Toronto. The Thornhill native signed a one-year, $1 million deal in the off-season to return to the Maple Leafs for his second stint with the team. He previously played with the club in 2008 and 2009.

“When I got picked up by the Leafs, it was something I was very excited about,” Moore says. “I enjoyed playing here in front of family and friends, and I’m obviously happy to be back.”

Nearly 10 years after his first appearance with the Maple Leafs, Moore now finds himself back in Toronto at a time where optimism around the team has reached heights not seen since the ’90s, thanks to the rise of budding superstars Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Moore’s fellow Thornhill native Mitch Marner.

“They’re exciting to watch, to cheer for and to play with,” Moore says of his young teammates. “They had a great season last year. They should be very proud. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

The youngest of three hockey-playing brothers — and second to crack the NHL after his brother Steve — Moore spent his formative years in Thornhill.

“It’s a great place to grow up, great community there,” Moore says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better place.”

Moore honed his craft with older brothers Mark and Steve at the Thornhill Community Centre, a place at which he logged plenty of practise hours.

“It was a great arena. It had two rinks, so I spent a lot of time there,” he says.

Moore also attended high school at St. Michael’s College School in Forest Hill with his brothers. St. Mike’s has produced many top-shelf hockey players over the years, including the Mahovlich brothers Frank and Peter, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin.

“They’re well-known for being a great school academically, but also the sports and hockey tradition is very strong, so it was a great fit for us,” Moore says. “It was a bit of a commute coming from Thornhill, but it was something that we felt was worth it.”

From there, Moore followed his brothers to Harvard University, where they became the first trio of brothers in school history to play for the Crimson at the same time. Moore’s journey wasn’t close to being done there, though. He would follow his brother Steve to the NHL.

Moore was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2000 and split his first three seasons with the Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Minnesota Wild.

In January of 2008, Moore was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs, thus beginning his first go around with his hometown team. Moore notched 41 points as a Leaf in 2008–09, which remains a career high.

Moore went on to the Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks before returning to the Rangers and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2013–14 season, eventually losing to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Moore spent three seasons with the Rangers before playing the 2016-17 season with the Boston Bruins, playing all 82 regular season games for the third time in his career.

Moore’s long career has not been without hardships, however. In March of 2004 — his rookie year — Moore’s brother Steve suffered a serious injury from a hit by Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi.

Steve Moore fractured three vertebrae in his neck, suffered a concussion and was never able to return to the ice.

In 2012, Dominic Moore founded Smashfest, a charity ping-pong tournament that supports research and advocacy for both concussions and brain injuries as well as rare cancers. Smashfest is now in its sixth year and has raised more than $500,000.

“There’s a lot of ping-pong tables in NHL locker rooms, so I thought it would make for a great charity event,” he says. “It’s social, it’s fun, and it’s been a great success so far.”

Later in 2012, tragedy struck again. Moore’s wife Katie was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, and he left hockey for 18 months to be with her. Sadly, she passed away in January of 2013. In her honour, Moore created the Katie Moore Foundation, which aims to help patients and families who are dealing with rare cancers.

Moore courageously returned to the NHL for the 2013–14 season with the Rangers and was instrumental in the team’s deep playoff run that year. Moore was also awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player that best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game.

A lot has happened in Moore’s life since the first time he pulled on a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. He’s gone from centring the top scoring line to battling for the fourth-line centre spot this season.

As one of a handful of off-season veteran additions to a youthful Maple Leafs club, Moore will likely be asked to take on the role of “grinder,” anchoring the penalty-killing unit and winning faceoffs.

He’s won an award, created two charitable organizations and has also remarried, tying the knot with Mary Hirst in July 2015.

The pair are currently house hunting in Toronto as they prepare to make Leafs nation their home.

So after this, his 13th season in the NHL — with 10 different teams — what’s next for Moore? According to him, he hasn’t given it a lot of thought.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

The Leafs home opener is on Oct. 7 where they will face off against Moore’s former team, the Rangers.