I first met Mark Moore in December 1999, while doing a story for the Globe and Mail in my role as a member of the Globe’s sports department. At the time he was a senior defenceman at Harvard, and the oldest of three brothers all playing on the same team. Steve was a rugged, high-scoring junior forward and Dominic was a highly touted rookie with quick feet and soft hands. The angle for the feature was initially quite simple: three brothers from what seemed an ordinary Ontario family all playing hockey for Harvard. Amazing. But in the course of doing the piece, the background became even more remarkable. Their mother had suffered a near fatal brain tumour when Mark was just twelve, and the recovery was long and difficult. Faced with adversity, Mark responded by only increasing his focus on his two main occupations — school and hockey. His example of hard work, dedication, and perseverance set the tone for his brothers, and their passion for hockey carried over into the rest of their lives, leading to incredible results.
That focus and devotion to hockey was no accident. The game of hockey in our country is indeed best described as a passion: a collective ritual that brings together a wide and diverse land by way of a common pursuit. The game, at its best, is played with passion, one almost unmatched in any other sport.
And courage. Climbing over the boards means competing in a confined place, on a slippery surface, against big bodies moving fast. You go as hard as you can, take a brief rest, and go hard again. It’s fast, and unrelenting, and Canadians love it.
But lost in the passion — lost in any passion, quite often — can be the importance of reflection. The game is played and followed with our hearts, and requires a deep commitment. Missing sometimes is perspective, or sober second thought.
For Mark Moore, the passion for hockey took him on a journey from shinny on Ontario ponds as a kid, to the sport’s leading high school — Toronto St. Mike’s — to the prestigious Crimson of Harvard University. He was drafted by the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins, signed a contract with them, and embarked on a career in professional hockey. On his journey he saw the game in all its forms — from small-town children’s leagues, to junior and college in the big city, to NHL training camps, to stops at different places in the minor leagues. He even had a taste of international hockey at training camp for the Canadian National Team, and in Europe studying under a renowned coach from Russia. There have been both highs and lows. He’s had the pleasure of skating with his hero, Mario Lemieux, of reaching the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Final, and of seeing his youngest brother, Dominic, thrive as a rising star with the New York Rangers. He’s also seen his own career being bogged down by injuries and eventually halted by post-concussion syndrome in just his third season. He also saw his brother Steve become embroiled in one of the most notorious moments in the sport’s history: Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi’s on-ice attack on Steve, then enjoying a promising rookie season with the Colorado Avalanche. Anyone with a bank of experiences like those I’ve mentioned would be worth listening to for their reflections on the game.