ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It's been 13 years since Michigan senior Luke Moffatt lost his maternal grandfather, Ed, to kidney cancer. But the memory of a devoted, loving family man from Ohio remains, a man who spent half the year in Arizona to be close to his grandchildren.
"He was all for the family, all for the grandchildren," Moffatt said. "He was always pushing me to go places in life, whether it was in hockey or in anything else."
Moffatt remembers a man who would bring him out to tennis courts or to the family garage and dress as a goalie just so young Luke could shoot pucks at him, despite not having a hockey background.
"He would get his shins all cut up and scraped up just to play with me," Moffatt said. "He went to my games, he went to practices. He was a huge supporter."
Ed was a larger than life figure that Moffatt recalls having a strong presence with his family.
"Whenever he would be talking to someone, he would feel like the most important person in the room," Moffatt said. "He was always present, in the moment and did everything for his family."
It was a difficult time for Luke and his family when Ed was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The illness is one of the 10 most common cancers, and one that is most likely to develop in men older than 55, according to the American Cancer Society.
"It was a tough time," Moffatt said. "I remember going to the hospital with my family to visit him, and it was hard to see him that way. Just having the opportunity to do this, to honor someone, I thought of him especially, because he's someone that made a lasting impression even though I only knew him eight years of my life."
As November comes to a close, and the team prepares to shave off their moustaches, Moffatt is one of many players who will look back fondly on the past month as a tribute to a friend or family member.
"I think it's a really special thing that we've done," Moffatt said. "At first, a lot people might have thought it was an excuse to grow a moustache, or just a facial hair thing. But for a lot of us, it goes a lot deeper than that. It certainly is a way to say thank you or honor someone from our past or that's in our life still today."