Scott Gomez

Devils’ Gomez considered retirement


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.’”

Related: Will Jagr finally show his age next season?

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.