Moen brings cup ring to town

 

The puck should be on a plaque, its glorious history relived every time Travis Moen looks at his wall.

 
 
 
 

The puck should be on a plaque, its glorious history relived every time Travis Moen looks at his wall.

It was Anaheim's third goal against Ottawa on June 6, 2007, scored at 14:55 of the second period, the deciding goal in the Ducks' 6-2, Stanley Cup-winning Game 5 victory over the Senators.

"I never did get it," Moen says today of the missing puck. "All our sticks and stuff on the ice when we won went missing, too.

"But my goal was scored in the second period, so it would have been pretty tough to get that puck." The video shows a linesman fishing that rubber out from behind Senators goalie Ray Emery and skating it back to centre ice for the faceoff.

And what the video shows 10 seconds earlier is Moen never touching it.

Moen could tell his grandkids that his Cup-winner was top shelf after an end-to-end rush. But that would be to hide a better truth: this surely was the only time in Stanley Cup history that the Cup-winning goal wasn't actually put in the net by the goal-scorer.

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips came out from behind his net and stickhandled the puck by accident into the feet of Emery, who then kicked it into his own goal. Moen, the nearest Duck on a play run amok, got the credit.

Moen does have a mounted puck from that series. He also scored the winner in Game 1 against Ottawa nine days earlier, and that one was a beauty - after some industrious work along the boards, he took a tipped pass from Rob Niedermayer and drilled one from the deep slot past Emery with 2:51 left, completing a 3-2 Ducks comeback victory.

"I have that one on a plaque," Moen says, grinning. "It would be nice to have the other one, but the (Stanley Cup) ring is a lot better." Moen isn't the highest-profile addition to the Canadiens this season, having signed a three-year, $4.5-million U.S. contract on July 10. But then, a checking forward who plays with his uniform sleeves rolled up isn't going to grab the most headlines.

That's fine with Moen, a 27-year-old from Stewart Valley, Sask. He knows what's expected of him on a dramatically refaced club that needs some sandpaper to go with its smooth forwards.

"I'm not flashy," he says, shrugging. "My game is pretty basic, pretty simple - I'm good defensively, I finish my hits and stick up for my teammates.

"But I'll try to score as much as I can." Moen was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round (155th overall) of the 2000 NHL entry draft. He was a product of the junior Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets, a teammate then, and now, of Josh Gorges.

Calgary would have been a sweet destination for a prairie boy, if he'd ever landed there. But Moen signed as a free agent with Chicago in October 2002 and broke into the NHL with the Blackhawks, playing all 82 games of the 2003-04 season.

He'd impressed the Chicago brass with his brassy lower-body parts, dropping his gloves in training camp with fellow Saskatchewan farmboy and former Canadiens heavyweight Lyle Odelein.

"One of my most memorable moments?" Moen repeats the question. "Probably one of my scariest. I'd watched Lyle a lot and it just so happened we both got in a scrum and neither of us backed down.

"I'd definitely give him the win, for sure. But it helped me win a spot on the team." Moen spent the next season with Norfolk in the American Hockey League and was traded in July 2005 to Anaheim, where he weathered knee and shoulder surgery his first season then played nearly three more, before being dealt to San Jose last March to finish out the season.

He listened to postseason offers, by now an unrestricted free agent, and signed on Canadiens GM Bob Gainey's dotted line.

"I've always wanted to play in Canada - my family has, too - and what an organization to play for," Moen says of Montreal. "How successful they've been, an Original Six team, all the history. It's just a pretty cool place to play.

"I sat with my agent and my wife, Amy, to decide where I saw myself fitting with a team. We felt this was was the right move. It's going to be fun and exciting. Definitely a little more pressure than the last four years, but pressure's fun, too." The reaction back home in Saskatchewan to his new address has been good "for the most part," he says, laughing.

"It's amazing how many die-hard Habs fans there are out there. People I've known for years, and didn't know they were Habs fans. Of course, I've gotten the gears from relatives who are die-hard Oilers and Flames fans, but they all wish me the best." Moen, Amy and their 8-month-old son, Carter, haven't been stung by culture shock, even if downtown Montreal will never be confused for rural Saskatchewan.

On a busy day, Stewart Valley's population might be 100, though Moen says it swelled to perhaps 1,300 the day he brought the Stanley Cup home in 2007. A few dollars paid by folks for a photo with the trophy went toward putting a new roof on the local arena.

"Old neighbours came down from Yellowknife for it," Moen says, still basking in the warmth of the special late July day.

It got better - a friend who worked on the CTV comedy hit Corner Gas arranged to cast Moen in an episode titled Bed and Brake Fast (it's on YouTube). He already was a fan, having been given a couple of seasons of the show on DVD by his mother.

Shot in Dog River, aka Rouleau, Sask., just before he returned to Anaheim for training camp, Moen takes the Stanley Cup to The Ruby, the community diner, where he's kicked in the cupped groin by a local kid who's told he can't sit in the trophy, then twice is nailed for speeding outside of town, the Cup his passenger.

(If Moen could date Lacey, Karen or Wanda, the show's female stars with whom he hung out 12 hours for his 90 seconds of screen time? "Karen," he jokes of the policewoman played by Tara Spencer-Nairn. "Cool personality, a good-looking lady.") It's in Stewart Valley that Moen still spends at least part of his summer, though not as much this year with a newborn, helping work the fields of his family's 3,800-acre grain farm that's run by his brother, Brant.

And, of course, he's a country-music fan, finally giving goalie Carey Price some support.

"I grew up on a farm, so it's pretty much a given that I'll be a country fan. George Strait, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, pretty much every country singer," Moen says of his taste, admitting he enjoys almost any of the eclectic tunes boomed in the dressing room.

Even without country radio, Montreal will be a grand adventure for himself, Amy and their son who's soon to see his first snow.

"I've been recognized here more in the past week than during my whole career in Anaheim," Moen said during training camp's first few days. "It's cool when you've got a young kid asking for your autograph." Even before he's scored his first goal in a CH-crested sweater, with a puck that won't get away. It will be mounted for him by the Canadiens, as the team's tradition dictates.

dstubbs@ thegazette.canwest.com

Follow Dave Stubbs's Canadiens bulletins and coverage at twitter.com/habsinsideout1 Tomorrow: Hal Gill

 
 
 
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