Monday, October 18, 2010
Nathan Moon-Kingston Frontenacs
A week ago, Nathan Moon was announced as the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Week. He had scored three goals and had six assists in three games.
I spoke with Nathan last week about his accomplishment.
He downplayed the honour, and indicated he hopes it is a step toward better things in his hockey future. “I really appreciated hearing that I had received the honour,” he told me, “but I still have a lot to accomplish”.
Way back in 2008, Nathan Moon was selected in the Fourth Round of the annual National Hockey League cattle call, sometimes called a draft. The NHL selects the best players from around the world by calling their names, and then posting their names on a board. From that moment on, for the next couple of years, a player’s fate is tied to that particular team. In Moon’s case, he was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins had arisen to the top of the NHL about that time, thanks to a great group of players led by a couple of kids named Crosby and Malkin. Moon knew that he had his work cut out for him. If he were going to sign an NHL contract, he would have to convince the authorities in Pittsburgh that they had made a wise choice. He would have to fit into their plans for the future.
He told me that Stirling’s Matt Cooke took him under his wing at the camp. “Cookie told me to get in touch with him if I needed anything. He invited me to dinner. As a rookie, I really appreciated that.”
Following training camp, the Penguins decided not to sign the young Belleville native, releasing Moon from any contract obligations with the team. He is now a free agent, and can sign with any other professional organization. Certainly a disappointment for a nineteen year old kid, but also an opportunity to move ahead.
Moon has taken the situation as a challenge, and the proof is in the pudding. “This past summer I worked really hard to get ready for the season. I have been following regimented workouts, and have improved my eating habits.” As a result, in only the third week of the season, he was selected as the top player in the country.
He credits his teammates for their play. He credits his coach, Doug Gilmour, for his expertise and his encouragement. He knows he is in Kingston because of the efforts of their General Manager, Larry Mavety. At the end of the day, however, only Moon himself can get the job done.
Nathan Moon was an outstanding football player as a kid. He played three years in the Belleville Minor Football league, a real pleasure to watch. He loved his position as a running back. He took every play as a challenge, following his blockers, deking in and out of the holes in the defence. He credits a lot of his success to his coach, Dick Howe. “Mr. Howe taught me how to win. He demonstrated the importance of footwork, and deception. He taught me how to compete.” Moon also played briefly at Quinte Secondary School before leaving for Kingston. He had honed his hockey skills in the Quinte “AAA” system to prepare for his hockey future.
He also spent several nights in the Duke Dome, and played half a dozen games with the Dukes. He made a point to credit Coach Tod Lavender for a few valuable tips about positional play. “Tod emphasized playing hard at both ends of the rink. I appreciated his input.”
Nathan Moon has led the Frontenacs in scoring the past three years. He is now in his fifth year with the team, and plans to make a statement with his play this year. He is a durable commodity, only missing a handful of games in his OHL career.
The Frontenacs recently welcomed back Erik Gudbranson, the third overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. They added former Belleville Bulls netminder Philipp Grubauer before the start of the season.. For many years, they have trailed their arch rival Bulls. It appears as though they may outdistance the Bulls this season.
Moon wants to make a statement this year. Even if it is at the expense of the Bulls. “Sure, I get up a little extra for our games against the Bulls. They are special games. But I just try to do my best as a two-way player.”
October 18, 2010