He was an American Olympian, Calder Memorial Trophy recipient, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, and now seven years after jumping ship from the New Jersey Devils to the New York Rangers as a free agent in 2007, Scott Gomez will be an NHL tryout looking to turn around a tarnished career that once flourished under Devils’ GM Lou Lamoriello.
When training camp begins next month, Gomez, 34, will be the latest on a long list of former-Devils that have found their way back to the Garden State in hopes of revitalizing their career.
According to Tom Gulitti of The Record, the Alaska-born Gomez has been working out in facilities located in New Jersey with Devils’ former fitness consultant Vladimir Bure, as he begins his attempt at bouncing back after finding himself as the odd man out in more than one NHL city over the last few years.
“Scotty and I met a couple of times and he still has the desire to play and he would like to try,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told Gulitti earlier this week. “ I encouraged him that if that’s what he’d like to do, he’d be given every opportunity.”
Gomez, who played just 85 games over the last two seasons with the San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers, began his own hockey demise when he signed a high-priced, multi-year deal with the New York Rangers following a successful seven seasons with the Devils.
The Rangers traded the former NHL All-Star in 2009 to the Montreal Canadiens who later bought out Gomez’s contract. Since 2007, Gomez has dressed for four NHL clubs without finding a permanent spot with any of them. He has six goals in his last 123 NHL regular season games.
“ There’s one goal and that’s to make the hockey club,” Gomez said. “ I’ve had ups and downs and it’s been great, but one thing about it some of my best hockey has been in Lou’s eyes. You only impress him if you can help out the team. He’s always there to help any of us out that have been here, but there’s no such thing as brownie points with Lou. That’s not the way it works.”
The Devils will begin training camp on September 18th with physicals before on-ice practice begins the following day. Gomez, too young to give up and too old to know an invite doesn’t necessarily mean a roster spot once the season begins, hopes to start fresh and dismiss anyone’s doubt that he doesn’t still have what it takes to be an NHL player.
“There’s nothing guaranteed. I’ve got to make them keep me. People forget: It’s not like I’m 38. I’m 34. It’s just that I’ve been playing for a long time, “ the former Devils center said. “The way the conditioning is, the way everything is now, it’s just a different game. I’m not going to have anyone tell me, ‘You can’t play hockey.’”
For now, no one will. But by the beginning of October? Well, we will see.
Scott Gomez over the years recap:
- 1998: Drafted by the New Jersey Devils with the 27th overall pick.
- 1999-2000: Awarded Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie after tallying 51 assists and 19 goals in his first NHL season.
- 1999-2000: All-Rookie Team + played in NHL All-Star Game.
- 2000: Helps New Jersey win their second Stanley Cup with 10 points in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- 2003: Re-captures Lord Stanley with the Devils, contributing 12 points in the post season run.
- 2003-2004: Led the NHL in assists (56) along with Martin St. Louis
- 2005-2006: Combines for personal NHL best 84 regular season points in 82 games.
- 2007: Signs seven-year, $51.5 million contract with New York Rangers.
- 2009: Traded from Rangers to Canadiens in exchange for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko.
- 2013: Gomez is told to not report to Canadiens for the season and is bought out.
- 2013: Signs one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks. In 39 games, Gomez scored two goals and added 13 assists.
- 2013: Signs one-year deal with the Florida Panthers. In 46 games, Gomez managed just 12 points.
Do you think Scott Gomez can make the Devils roster out of training camp? Leave your thoughts below.