Dominic Moore's unconditional passion for all things blue and white is on display for all to see at his parents' Thornhill home.
Nailed to the wall in his childhood bedroom is one of his most prized possessions, a stick generously given to him by then-Maple Leafs star Doug Gilmour in 1994.
Fourteen years later, Gilmour, now a member of the Leafs management team, was watching from the Air Canada press box as the recently acquired Moore led his beloved Leafs to a 4-2 victory over the rival Ottawa Senators Saturday, earning first-star honours in the process.
With another of his hockey idols, Wendel Clark, in the house as well, Moore picked the perfect stage to score his first goal as a Leaf. One period later, as Clark was shown on the centre-ice video screen, Moore joined the capacity crowd in saluting the former Leafs captain.
"While the fans were giving him such a big ovation, I was tapping my stick for him too," Moore said. "You have to understand. Guys like Wendel and Doug, those are the guys who were in my wheelhouse, the guys who I grew up watching, the guys I looked up to.
"That's why I don't take putting on this jersey for granted. It is a privilege, believe me."
Moore was one of the final pickups made by John Ferguson, who plucked him off waivers last month just days before being relieved of his duties as Leafs general manager.
While the transaction drew little fanfare at the time, Moore combined with veteran Boyd Devereaux and rookie Robbie Earl to form a speed-first line that caused havoc with the Sens all night.
NEED FOR SPEED
While Moore and Devereaux might be known more for their wheels than their hands, they showed that quickness is a much-needed virtue for any team, especially when it causes opponents to take penalties in order to slow them down.
"(Moore) is playing well. That line brought a lot of energy to the table," said Gilmour, who had no idea that Moore had one of his sticks hanging like a trophy.
"It must be a wooden one. That shows you how long ago it was," Gilmour laughed.
Asked to recount the story of how he received the stick, a childhood twinkle came to Moore's eyes.
"It was the NHL lockout of 1994 and I was about 13, going to school at St. Mike's," Moore said. "I had heard Dougie was skating on his own over at St. Mike's Arena so I went to see him."
Upon arriving at the rink, Moore ran into CITY-TV sportscaster Jim McKenny. The former Leaf-turned-talk-jock was familiar with Moore, who had been named CITY-TV's athlete of the week a couple of weeks earlier.
"Jim was nice enough to introduce me to Doug, who gave me a stick," Moore said. "I couldn't believe it. It made me late for class but I didn't care. When I finally did get to class, I still had the stick with me. Good thing I had a very understanding teacher."
With so many players out of the lineup -- the Leafs were missing eight against Ottawa including six regulars -- the Moore line will be relied upon to pick up the slack. In the meantime, he is not taking the opportunity for granted.
"When you grow up following this team, you know what it's all about," he said, "I just enjoy playing in a place where people care so much.
"I am simply a product of this environment."