After spending portions of the 2013-14 season as a healthy scratch with the Florida Panthers, Scott Gomez is hoping to revive his career with a tryout in New Jersey.
Gomez, 34, appeared in 46 games for the Panthers last season scoring two goals and adding 10 assists, but spent large parts were spent watching from above.
It gave Gomez an opportunity to think about life after hockey.
“There were other opportunities and I had some other offers on the other side of it, in TV and stuff like that, but no,” Gomez told Tom Gulitti. “I’ve still got a lot to prove. I still want to play. There’s a lot of hockey left. I talked to so many guys that I played with. There’s still a lot to prove. For whatever reason, last year didn’t work out. I had some other teams call, but we went to Lou and I just said, ‘Give me the opportunity to make the team.’ We talked, obviously and he wanted to know where I was at and I just said, ‘I want to come back. It’s still there. No one’s writing my script. I’ve got a lot to prove.’
“And he gave me the tryout and now it’s my job to make him keep me.”
Originally a first round pick of the Devils (27th overall in 1998) Gomez spent seven seasons with New Jersey winning Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003.
Gomez left New Jersey following the 2006-07 to sign a seven-year, $51.5 million contract with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent.
“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. “I encouraged him that if that’s what he’d like to do, he’d be given every opportunity.”
Gomez scored 19 goals and 70 points as a rookie with the Devils in 1999-2000 winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie and ranks sixth in franchise history in assists (334) and points (450).
The 5-foot-11, 198-pound center is hoping to revive his career in New Jersey similar to Petr Sykora, who was a camp invite 2011 and earned a contract based on his performance.
“There’s nothing guaranteed,” Gomez said. “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 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.’”