07/31/2010 at 12:40am EDT
Tampa Bay announced the addition of Dominic Moore today, a player who brings much more to the table than most pundits give him credit for. Crafty, fast, gritty and great on faceoffs, Moore was a key cog in the Canadiens playoff race in 2010. He’s a smart supplement for the talented roster Steve Yzerman has put together as a rookie general manager in mere months.
What Yzerman and a new ownership team have accomplished in a short amount of time is quite impressive. He’s installed smart hockey people across the organization, from the scouting department to behind the bench. Guy Boucher, as a new member of the NHL coaching fraternity, was viewed as something of a genius by his former employers, the Montreal Canadiens. Literally. He has two university degrees, studies his players carefully and communicates extremely well. He is said to keep books of notes – on each player he coaches. This sort of cerebral approach to the game, combined with the respect Boucher shows his players, is exactly what Tampa Bay needs post-Tocchet - and certainly post-Melrose. The Canadiens were very, very sad to see him go. Boucher was a great hire, and a fantastic first personnel move for GM Yzerman.
However, Yzerman’s most impressive moves have been player related. He has taken a dead end location for most NHLers, with a bloated roster and bloated contracts, and quickly turned it into a potential playoff threat. Meszaros? Gone. Krajicek? Gone. Foster? Gone. Walker? Gone. Tanguay? Long, long gone. Unwanted bodies, contracts, and future contract demands have been shuttled away in favour of team players, leaders and pure talent.
Who’s new to town? Gagne, Moore, Ellis, Kubina, Connolly - the changes have been fast and positive. The French Connection Circa 2010, that of Gagne-Lecavalier-St. Louis, could threaten to be the best line in hockey. Ellis is a goaltender waiting to break out, a guy who oozes talent but has never had the right opportunity. Kubina proved in Toronto that he can lead a blue line, and as the new mentor for Victor Hedman he will be expected to do that.
What’s incredible to this point is that I haven’t even mentioned Steven Stamkos. This young phenom is thought by some to be the “next” one, although we have heard that many times before. While I don’t believe he possesses the eyes or hockey IQ of Crosby, or, say, Zetterberg, his raw talent is unquestionable. He’s a 50 goal threat, and arguably Tampa’s second line centre.
Which brings us back to Dominic Moore. Why? As the new 3rd line centre on Tampa, Moore is the perfect complement for Lecavalier and Stamkos. He’s smart, dependable and yet he demands zero attention. That said, when Stamkos makes a mistake, and Vinny is busy, Moore is more than happy (no pun intended) to give reporters some quotes and take the heat off the other players. He’s a team guy, and a solid signing - just another sign that Yzerman knows exactly what he’s doing.
Last year, Tampa Bay was expected to thrash around and sink to the bottom. This year? Definitely a playoff team. You can take that to the bank, and thank Steve Yzerman for the deposit.