Matt Moulson had never been traded. The experience was a bit of a whirlwind – finding out Sunday and getting a car to the airport at 4:30 Monday morning to arrive in Buffalo in time for the Sabres’ morning skate before suiting up for a game against the Dallas Stars.
But in all honesty, the hockey is the easy part.
“I don’t think me, personally, I worry about the hockey too much. I’ll play the same no matter where I’m going,” Moulson said Wednesday morning. “It’s the family aspects that are the tough part.”
The 29-year-old Moulson is the father of two – including George Benjamin, who was born Oct. 11. His wife, Alicia, stayed back in New York with their newborn son and 14-month-old daughter.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to get out here as soon as possible,” Moulson said. “I don’t think my son can travel for a few weeks. We’ll wait until then and then figure things out.
“That’s why I married a strong woman. She’ll be taking care of the family. I’ll be concentrating on hockey. We’ve dealt with things off-ice before that haven’t affected me on the ice. That’s what being professional is about. I’ll miss them but I’ll be concentrating on hockey.”
Moulson doesn’t see fitting into his new hockey family as a difficult transition. Monday morning he quickly got into the groove playing on a line with Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis. On his second shift as a Sabre, Moulson took a pass from Ennis on a 3-on-2 break and slapped the puck into the net, tying the game with Dallas, 1-1.
He added a second goal late in the second to pull the Sabres within one, but the Stars came away with the 4-3 win. But his performance, which included a few other excellent scoring chances and supplying a dynamic energy that was noticeable in the building, was something positive to build on. All this despite the fact he had been on the go for about 15 hours.
“My wife always says I play my best games when I’m tired so I’ll have to stay up to two in the morning every day I guess,” Moulson said.
He can stay up as late as he wants if he continues to spark the Sabres’ lackluster offense. Moulson had three straight 30-goal seasons with the New York Islanders and netted 15 goals with 29 assists in last year’s lockout-shortened season.
And Wednesday night, he showed just what he can bring to the Buffalo franchise.
“He’s a hockey player. It goes back to he’s a hockey player,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. “In every zone he’s solid. Plays his position. Got pucks out on the wall. Makes little plays through the neutral zone. Gets to the net. Give and go. He’s a hockey player. That’s all I can tell you. He’s good and I’m glad we have him.”
For his part, Moulson said he was excited about the opportunity to work with a young team while continuing to play his style of game.
“When guys are in this stage of this career like many of the guys here, it’s exciting,” Moulson said. “They’re young with a lot of raw talent. It’s exciting to be part of a group like that. I’m ready to go.
“I don’t think there’s much adjustment. I’m going to go out there, play hockey like I always do, try to score goals and I’m sure I’ll be around the net as usual. I don’t venture too far from there. Hopefully that will be a familiar spot for me tonight.”
But how long will Moulson be here? He had been with the New York Islanders since the team signed him as a free agent in 2009. He was in the last year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
“I just take it day by day,” Moulson said. “Being from Mississauga, I’m well acquainted with Buffalo. I used to love coming to Bills games. It’s a great city and who knows, it could be for along time. We’ll see what they have in store.”
The Sabres took part in the Hockey Fights Cancer program Monday night, an NHL-wide initiative to raise money for and awareness of cancer research.
Among the events, Sabres players used lavender tape on their sticks, some of which will be auctioned off at the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Wine Festival on Nov. 2 to benefit the Janis Foligno Foundation.
Over the past two years, the Buffalo Sabres Hockey Fights Cancer fund has donated $10,000 to Flashes of Hope, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for children’s cancer.
Members of Camp Good Days along with patients from Carly’s Club, ECMC, Roswell Park and WNY Hospice Essential Care watched the game from suites donated by the Sabres organization while Jason Nipcon, a pediatric cancer survivor, dropped the puck for a ceremonial opening faceoff.
Patrick Kaleta will not appeal his 10-game suspension to an independent arbitrator, according to several reports. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 10-game suspension issued to Kaleta for his hit to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets’ Jack Johnson.
Monday was the ninth game of his 10-game suspension.
The independent arbitrator is a new feature for players under the latest collective bargaining agreement and has not been used by any player to date.
While Kaleta only has one more game to serve, he could have recovered money lost if the arbitrator had reduced the suspension.
Jamie McBain and the suspended John Scott sat out for the Sabres. Scratched for Dallas were Ryan Garbutt, Kevin Connauton and Travis Morin.