Who is Matt Moulson?November 19, 2009
Picture a 15-year-old, living in the hockey crazed city of Ontario, who never got a shot to play in the famous Ontario Hockey League (OHL.) Instead of becoming one of the league’s stars, the closest he ever got to starring in the world junior championship was watching it on television. Now, picture a 20-year-old whose name was passed over 262 times during his second year of eligibility in the NHL draft. It’s safe to say the odds of him ever playing in the NHL were pretty slim.
Now fast forward to this past Monday night, as Islander forward Matt Moulson scores his second goal of the game, team leading 10th of the season, and first ever multi-goal game. Matt’s road to the NHL was full of twists and turns, but he never gave up and never lost hope that one day he’d be a star.
“I think some of it’s just ignorance,” Moulson said Wednesday from Long Island, N.Y. “I didn’t even realize the hurdles, so to speak, or the obstacles. I just kind of kept my head down. My dad always told me to keep working and I’d make it – I think maybe I believed it too much. …
“My dad jokes sometimes that if he knew back then what we know now about the hockey world, he probably would have told me to pack it up and concentrate on academics and business.”
As an Islander fan, Moulson has been a pleasant surprise, in a season so far filled with unexpected success. The Islanders were pegged by plenty of publications as one of the worst teams in the league pre-season, but have overcome the naysayers and are off to a solid 8-6-7 start. All the talk before the season was about #1 overall pick John Tavares, and few mentioned the 26-year-old journeyman. One may think that a journeyman at the young age of 26 is impossible, but that’s not the case with Moulson.
Matt’s teenage years were filled with getting cut by teams and eventually found his way to Cornell University after playing Junior B hockey in Guelph, Ont. After college, he signed with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 to an entry-level contract and appeared in 29 games over the past two seasons. Nevertheless, he was never able to secure a full spot in the lineup.
Now, with the Islanders, he leads the team in goals, and is second in points with 18 through 21 games.
“I don’t think I could ask for much more,” said Moulson. “The situation I’m in and where I’ve been placed on the team, how I fit in. I didn’t really know what to expect. I just wanted to make this team.”
A big factor in his decision to sign with the Islanders over the summer was the belief he’d be given a decent opportunity to earn a roster spot. Moulson agreed to a two-way deal – and could easily be sent to the AHL – but had the chance to speak with Tavares and coach Scott Gordon before signing his contract.
“Before free agency, I was pretty much a nervous wreck,” said Moulson. “I didn’t know what was going to go. My fate was in my agent Wade Arnott’s hands. I’d call him up about 10 times a day asking, ‘Wade, where do you think I’ll end up?’ ”
Luckily for the Isles, Moulson landed on Long Island.
Matt Moulson and the Islanders resume their road trip tomorrow in Minnesota.