The NHL lockout drags on, and players are impatient to get back on the ice. Scott Gomez, a 12-year NHL veteran, two-time Stanley Cup winner, and two-time All-Star player for the Montreal Canadiens, sought solace in his hometown of Anchorage. Gomez signed a contract to play for the minor league Alaska Aces—the same team he played for during the 2004-2005 lockout—and he saw quick success for the Aces, scoring the game-winning goal on Wednesday.
“It’s nice to play hockey again, it’s been a while,” Gomez said in an interview with Bill Littlefield.
The goal wasn’t exactly “top shelf,” according to Gomez. It hit off his rear into the net. But still…
“It’s a goal, you know. Like I said, it’s good to be back playing hockey and having fun, especially helping out the young guys and help out my home team.”
Fans of the Aces, of the ECHL premier ‘AA’ hockey league, have welcomed Gomez home.
“It’s one thing about our community here, we’re all part of anyone that comes out of here. It’s something we grew up with, this organization, and the owners, the coaches. They’ve always treated us well.”
Gomez said he had mixed emotions about his return to the minor league.
“Let’s face it—we’d all like the NHL to be going right now. And the people who lose out the most are the fans. As much as people are happy to see me play up here, they definitely would rather see NHL hockey. I know as players we truly care about the fans, and that’s the most important thing, because the fans are what keep the games going.”
Lockouts hit both veterans and new players hard, Gomez said. He witnessed firsthand what it’s like to lose a season to lockout in 2004-2005.
“There were tons of guys that never played again. There are some young guys that are ready to reach their dreams and to be held back—it’s a no-win situation for everyone. There are a lot of guys who sacrificed for the union and never got a chance to play again. But they stayed strong for the union.”
Despite recent negotiations, the league seems no closer to an agreement, and players are starting to make plans for another lost season.
“I hate to even think that, but if that’s the case, I guess the goal switches to helping bring a Kelly Cup back to Alaska. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that, let’s hope for the fans sake we get NHL hockey back and instead of going for the Kelly cup, playing for the Stanley Cup.”