Amby "Moose" Moran was a Winnipeg boy, beginning his senior career there in 1919/20. The origin of his nickname was presumably his frame; he was a 6-foot, 200-pounder at a time when such things were pretty rare. He was a big boy, certainly, and a rambunctious one, even being arrested once in 1923 for assaulting a police officer.
He was, however, a very good hockey player for a number of years. He turned pro in 1921 with Regina of the new WCHL. He faded fast in his thirties, though, so by the time the NHL absorbed the western league, Moran wasn't the player he once was. But in his prime, he was a force to be reckoned with.
In the January 12, 1923 edition of the Regina Morning Leader, Moran was compared to future Hall of Famer Herb Gardiner in a discussion of who was the best left defenceman in the WCHL at the time. We know that Gardiner was effective offensively and outstanding on defence. He was awarded the 1927 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, in the first season after the eastern league absorbed the western one. Here's what the Leader had to say about them:
...[W]hen the relative virtues of the two players were compared, we came to the conclusion that the Calgary playing manager [Gardiner] earned the call because of his superior polish.
Defensively, Gardiner has a slight edge on Moran. He is faster on the check and knows the breaking-up art from A to Z. On the attack he is also a valuable asset to his team, although not a prolific goal getter.
Moran's value to the attack lies more in his ability to score one goal regularly every game, rather than in his ability to help out the forwards. Amby undoubtedly packs a much more wicked shot than the Bengal captain, is a more dangerous man to rush; but it is seldom that he steadies down the forwards as Gardiner does; he rather attempts to do everything on his won. And while he acquires a certain amount of glory for his unquestionably spectacular rushing, his offensive play is colorful rather than effective.I think we can discount the comment that Gardiner has a "slight edge" on defence to a degree of homerism. Moran was a starting blueliner for Regina at the time, and he was probably getting a home-team boost here. That being said, Moran was certainly not a liability on defence in his WCHL years. But ultimately, he was known as a big, rough, rambunctious rusher with a wicked shot.
Amby Moran, stocky defenceman of the Maroons, got in some of his Firpo-like rushes. Boston got an extra two minutes on his penalty for a display of temper. (Regina Morning Leader, 19 Jan 1926)
[Moran] instigated an individual rush straight up the centre of the ice, and when just beyond the defense, let go a rifle shot that whizzed past Talbot a mile a minute. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful game. Moran's drive was the fastest of the night, and the twine sagged before its momentum. (Regina Morning Leader, 5 Jan 1922)
|1921||Brandon Wheat Cities||MAHL||3||73||1825||2.9||3.4||-0.4||5.9||3.23|
|1927||Moose Jaw Maroons||PHL||53||28||625||0.4||0.0||-0.2||0.2||0.32|
|1927||New Haven Eagles||CAHL||3||15||375||-0.5||-0.1||-0.2||-0.8||-2.13|
|1928||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||3||42||1050||0.3||0.0||-0.2||0.1||0.10|
|1928||Moose Jaw Maroons||PHL||3||37||925||0.0||1.8||-0.4||1.4||1.51|