The recent play of LA Kings forward – and Thousand Oaks native – Trevor Moore could pay dividends for the sport of hockey in California.

Growing up in Thousand Oaks, California in the northwestern part of the Greater Los Angeles area, Trevor Moore didn’t really have any big-name players in the National Hockey League coming from the SoCal area to look up to. He’s now beginning to set a foundation of success for hockey players in Los Angeles. All while doing it for the hometown LA Kings.

Moore was a part of the Los Angeles Selects Hockey Club for U16 AAA skaters. There he played with fellow NHLers Chase De Leo of the New Jersey Devils, and Eric Comrie of the Winnipeg Jets. He led the team in scoring with 19 goals and 41 points through 35 games. Next, he settled in at Kennewick, Washington with the Tri-City Americans of the USHL. Shortly after, he joined the University of Denver in the NCAA.

After going undrafted, Moore signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016. He became the first player from Thousand Oaks to play a game in the NHL during the 2018-19 season,

In 2020, Moore was part of a trade package that sent Jack Campbell and fan-favorite Kyle Clifford to the Maple Leafs and brought Moore back home.

Originally, it didn’t go great for Moore. He was shuffled all over the lineup and was unable to find any consistent linemates. Frustration started to set in amongst the fan base as well. There were calls for him to be scratched, waived, or traded.

Then came the MAD line.

Due to COVID and injuries, Head Coach Todd McLellan slotted Moore on the second line with Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. The line has been dominant for the team as they’ve found recent success in the standings. All of a sudden, the guy everybody wanted out of the lineup has 18 points through 40 games played; the best point-per-game pace of his NHL career.

This season, Moore leads all Kings forwards in goals above replacement (GAR) at 5.70. Additionally, he’s been a net-positive on both ends of the ice at even-strength and on the power play. He has 11 points through his last eight games and his play has taken the step to the next level.

When asked about Moore’s slow start with the Kings, McLellan took responsibility, saying “we played him everywhere. He was a center, a left-wing, a right-wing. He was on the top line, he was on the fourth line. He’s found a home [on the second line] now.”

“I think I’ve got to give most credit to my linemates, they’re two really, really talented NHL players, and guys who do it on both sides of the puck,” Moore told Patrick O’Neal in regards to Danault and Arvidsson. “I think it’s simple. We’re just guys who want to win the puck back, guys who want to work hard and get pucks to the net and bodies to the net.”

Despite Moore’s modesty, he plays just as big of a role in his line’s success as his linemates. The difference is his success could be important in a different way: influencing the next crop of young hockey players in the Southern California market.

Moore is one of just two players from The Golden State actively playing in California (enter Matt Nieto, Long Beach native). Trust me, that’s something that kids growing up take note of. Especially when it’s a player performing up to the level that Moore has.

“I loved watching the great players on the Kings. I grew up watching Kopitar, Doughty, Brown, and Quick, all those guys. I remember seeing Kopitar doing that same shootout move he’s done his whole career. You remember those things. Those are the important moments in your hockey life that you remember and make you really fond of the game. It’s where your passion comes from. You sit there in the stands and think about what it would be like to play in the NHL and what it would feel like to play for your home team,” Moore told Chris Lomon for a piece with the NHLPA in March 2021.

This emergence from Moore could be a great opportunity for the continued growth of hockey in Los Angeles.

Young fans today are watching this run by Moore and imagining themselves in that same position, representing their hometown as they compete for a Stanley Cup. Just as he did growing up watching his favourite LA Kings.

Ultimately, if Moore can find consistency with this recent success, he could be a hometown hero for years to come. That would be a pretty cool story.