The Players Tribune is slowly but surely becoming a one stop shop for athletes telling stories they wouldn’t ordinarily tell to anyone else. They themselves have editorial control and can put out whatever they are comfortable sharing. Scott Gomez, now of the St. Louis Blues, wrote an article this past March that put many of the other articles to shame. Gomez, who used to be one of the highest paid players in the game, was skating for the New Jersey Devils at the time for a lowly $550,000 (don’t we all wish we were paid so little?). He shared one of his lowest moments in the league for all of us to read and let us see a vulnerable side we don’t usually get to see.
“Early in my career, I’d hear about guys with long scoreless droughts and just think, How’s that even possible? It made no sense to me.
But then there I was, sitting on the bench for the Montreal Canadiens, watching our home fans in the stands dancing around in sombreros and singing “Happy Birthday” in honor of my one-year goal drought.
By that point, I was fully aware of my poor play. My lack of scoring was the subject of TV reports, newspaper columns and, yes, its own website. But it was at that moment, serving as the butt of a bad joke for 20,000 fans at the Bell Centre, that it hit me hardest.
Holy shit, I’m that guy now.”
He was cut shortly after the 2013 season when GM Marc Bergevin told him to sit out the lockout shortened season so he could be released via a buyout. It seemed like the end. It could have been the end. He needed help to get out of a dark moment, he needed a chance, the Panthers gave him one but he needed to come home to find his game.
Who would have thought his resurrection would take place in New Jersey of all places?
It happened when Lou Lamierello last year decided to give him a chance to once again prove himself. In 58 games last year Gomez scored 34 points, fourteen of which came on the power play. At close to league minimum who doesn’t need his services? As crafty as a player he is it makes sense that he would find his game again. He knew that his career didn’t need to end with him at the bottom of a valley, that is why his time with the Devils was so important, it made his ascension that much sweeter.
This summer, Gomez again was a player without a contract. Thanks to a series of early injuries for the St. Louis Blues, he was given a professional tryout which he has used to earn regular playing time. The Blues have been able to pick and choose where they use the veteran and the added rest mixed with the fire to succeed has rolled back the years on Gomez. He has been dynamic on offense, often setting up his teammates around the net.
Thus far, Gomez has eight points on the season through fifteen games which puts him on a pace for close to 50 points this season. He isn’t shooting the puck at an insane rate which may lead to a sustained level of play throughout the season. He isn’t being carried by teammates either, as he has seen about 23% of his time on ice with Troy Brouwer and Magnus Paajarvi, two good but not outstanding players.
Gomez put a perfect perspective on the experiences he has had on the league and a man who has impacted his game so much.
“I remember when I was with Canadiens and things weren’t going well, we had a game in Montreal against the Devils. We lost and I had a terrible game, but afterwards I asked a trainer if I could speak with Lou – we hadn’t talked since I left the Devils. In natural form, Lou had me meet him in some private room that he somehow knew about in the depths of the Bell Centre. When we were alone, I told him that I wasn’t sure what he might have heard about me or what had been said since I left, but that I wanted him to know that I still live by his standard every day I come to the rink.
I always will.”
Gomez got his second chance, like he had hoped. Now he is making damn sure that he isn’t going to waste it.