Espousing a philosophy centering on hard work, tenacious play, and skill, the Boston Bruins have written some inspiring chapters in the franchise’s storied history in recent years.
The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and were two wins away from another title last year, falling 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks in the championship series.
Attracted by the club’s approach and success, former Princeton University men’s hockey star Mike Moore signed with the Bruins this summer as he joins his third NHL organization after having spent the majority of the past five years playing in the American Hockey League (AHL).
For the 2008 Princeton alum, moving to the Bruins was a no-brainer, considering his blue collar approach to the game.
“They are such a successful franchise,” said Moore, a defenseman who previously played for the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators organizations.
“You realize there may be an opportunity there and that it’s a good place for you to fit in and play that style of hard-nosed hockey that they play.”
The Bruins, for their part, identified the gritty Moore as a good fit for their organization.
“They were one of the teams that were interested,” said Moore, 28, a 6’1, 210-pound native of Calgary, Alberta who was a free agent after last season and skated in the Bruins training camp before being assigned to Providence of the AHL.
“They’d really like me to play in their system. They’ve watched me play before and they know what to expect. I was excited from what they said when we talked. It looks like it could be a good opportunity, so I’m going to give it the best shot that I can.”
Moore enjoyed an exciting career at Princeton, earning first-team All-Ivy League and first-team All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECACH) honors as senior in 2007-08 and getting chosen as the ECACH Defenseman of the Year. He helped Princeton win the ECACH championship in that 2007-08 campaign and received the Blackwell Trophy as the team’s most valuable player and the Class of 1941 Trophy for his inspiration and leadership. He also was one of the recipients of the William Winston Roper Trophy, given to the top Princeton senior male athletes.
In Moore’s view, his experience at Princeton and the chance to skate for Tiger head coach Guy Gadowsky, now at Penn State, played a critical role in his ascension to the professional ranks.
“It molded me into the person I am today,” said Moore, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major who tallied 52 points in his Tiger career on 14 goals and 38 assists.
“I definitely wouldn’t be where I am right now in my hockey career if I didn’t go to Princeton. I had those experiences with my teammates and Guy Gadowsky. The mentoring from the older classmates I experienced there was awesome.”
Moore began his professional career shortly after completing his senior season in Princeton. He played in the San Jose Sharks’ minor league affiliate in Worcester for three games after graduation and went on to spend four straight seasons in Worcester. In the 2010-11 season, Moore got his first taste of the NHL as he played six games with San Jose. Last year, Moore skated in the Nashville Predators’ farm system and participated in 50 games with the Milwaukee Admirals.
As he has toiled in the AHL, Moore has watched with pride as some of his fellow Princeton alums have reached the NHL by dropping the gloves. Standouts such as George Parros and Kevin Westgarth have both advanced to the NHL as fighters, a far cry from their days skating against Ivy League opponents.
“Those guys are in a class by themselves,” said Moore. “There are a lot of tough guys that came out of Princeton. You’re pretty proud to have those guys represent the school at that level. They do an unbelievable job in their communities and they’re well respected in the league. It’s pretty inspiring to see.”
No matter how former Tigers advance through the professional ranks, they are all serving as inspiration for Moore as well as a powerful recruiting tool at Princeton.
“It’s awesome to see for the program,” asserted Moore. “Guys now see it as a place where they can keep their careers going. I hope they know they can not only get a good education but also that hockey is a path they can follow.”
Moore knows he faces a fight in getting called up to the Bruins. “There haven’t been a lot of promises, but that’s not necessarily what you’re looking for during the process of free agency,” said Moore.
“You just try to work hard for when that opportunity might come. You just battle and keep trying to improve. You want to play the style of game that they say will get you to the next level, and you hope that opportunity is there.”