Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/18/07 at 06:28 PM ET
Scott Gomez of the NY Rangers took part in a NHL tele-conference today…
Q. What’s that going to be like the first time you play the New Jersey Devils?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Talking to some of the guys over there, it’s going to be ? it will be different for sure. I’m sure a lot of emotions that day. But once you step on the ice, hey, going against those guys now and do whatever it takes to win. I’m sure they feel the same way.
Q. Was it true that there was some sort of coin flip or puck flip for jersey numbers between you and Chris Drury?
SCOTT GOMEZ: We talked after I signed and Chris signed later that day. We talked about it. And I said take 23. I never picked it. Never was a number in mind. The Devils kind of gave it to me. I’ve always grown up wearing No. 11 or 19. I’m sure I wasn’t going to get 11 here.
So we flipped for it. It wasn’t a big deal and I’m pretty excited I get my old number back.
Q. Just to localize it here, you’ve come a long way since the Surrey Eagles. What do you remember of your days playing here in the lower mainland?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Still one of the highlights of my career. I went back this summer to stay for a week with my old billets. The words just can’t describe it. I think it helped me out, kind of taking me to the next level with Rick Lance as my coach. Mark Holik. The whole atmosphere, people in Vancouver. Everything, it was my first year away from home. Couldn’t have gone any better.
I learned a lot and just fond memories, and just great friends over there. And like I said the Eagles will always have a place in my heart.
Q. When you’re deciding which team to sign for, you must have been fully aware that when you play for the Rangers and you have to play in Jersey, you’ll probably be booed mercilessly because they’re an awfully good rival?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Didn’t cross my mind. I didn’t know they did that. I was talking to Bobby Holik a lot this summer. I have seen it firsthand. I’ve talked to a bunch of Devils fans. I’m sure every time I touch the puck I don’t think I’m going to get a standing ovation.
But it is what it is. This is where I wanted to come. I had great years over in Jersey. And, hey, the fans are passionate over there. They get kind of a bad rap. I’m public enemy number one now. So I’ve never really been booed during a whole game but I’m sure it’s going to happen. So whatever. It will be interesting.
Q. If you do play with Jagr, what will it be like passing to Jagr, he likes to pass as much as shoot. Will that be any different for you, he’s just not a shooter?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to play with some talented wingers and guys that are just amazing. But I think this guy right now, we’re talking about probably top five greatest hockey players ever to play. He’s that good.
And we’re getting used to each other right now. But you just kind of ? it was kind of like playing with Mogilny for the first time. You kind of forget he’s on your line. You just kind of watch what he does. It’s going to be interesting how it works out. And like I said whatever it takes, the good thing about a cover right now is we’ve got the options, you’ve got guys you can plug in here and there. So whatever it takes to win.
If me and him work out, it would be great. If not, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re getting in the points night in night out.
Q. My question was to take you back a little further to Boys and Girls Club in Anchorage and ask the role it played and ask you to comment on kind of being a pioneer from Anchorage. We’re looking now at Matt Carl, Nate Thompson, teammate Brandon Dubinsky, and I saw Moises Gutierrez out of Traverse City. Five guys I am seeing out of Anchorage. What’s going on with that, we’re seeing better hockey players out of there?
SCOTT GOMEZ: First answer, Boys and Girls Club, back then, I don’t want it to sound like ages ago, but the Boys and Girls Club provided hockey equipment. If you wanted to try it out, that was the normal thing. All the kids in the neighborhood, we would go down to the Boys and Girls Club to get hockey gear. Only had to get skates and a helmet and sticks on your own. Great organization. They do everything for the kids.
Got me, those are the first three or four years I played on the Boys and Girls Club team. And it’s just a great program they have going.
The second question is all I can say it’s about time. I mean I was getting ? me and Matt ? Nate and I were actually joking about it. We can’t figure out why some of the older guys never broke into it. The guys we really looked up to, it’s just weird, because everyone would always ask, am I the only hockey player from there? I always have to answer, no, we’ve got some really great kids that are going to come up. It’s just ? it’s to be in Alaska, we’re proud. Everyone’s proud of their own. And like I said it’s about time, because and especially when you get to meet these guys like a Matt Carl and a Nate and Brandon. Great kids, great local kids.
And we’re just proud. We’re Alaskans and we’re definitely proud of them and hope there will be many more.
Q. Is there one really good strong organization you played in between the Boys and Girls Clubs and when you went down to the British Columbia Junior League?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Back then, now it’s different. When we were growing up, me and Nate, they’re a little younger, but there was either the All Stars or the North Stars organizations. Year in, year out, whatever team.
But those two organizations are definitely, they were definitely what we all played. And I think the main thing for us was the coaching we got. We all had ex?UA hockey players as our coaches and they’re the ones that should get the credit. Because they just ? I don’t know how many guys my last year I played at home, my junior year, how many went on to get college scholarships and a couple guys played in the NHL or Ty Jones played for a little bit.
The coaching back there when we were growing up I think they deserve all the credit.
Q. Some names I can get?
SCOTT GOMEZ: My coaches for me would be Scott McLeod. I don’t think Nate or Brandon had him. But main guy would be Scott McLeod. Since I was a pee wee up to midgets, he knew how to push my buttons. Knew how to ? he’s one of the reasons why I’m definitely in the NHL and I owe him a lot.
Q. I want to take you back to July 1st. Paul Holmgren said in the first couple of hours of free agency he put three offers, one to you and Jory and Brier. We would have had a problem if they came back simultaneously. We didn’t know what was going to happen. And Brier came back right away. We understand that your agent was a little upset that you didn’t have more time to think about what the Flyers were offering. Can you tell what it was, there were like ten teams going for you guys?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Not to ? that’s totally false. We respect so much for Holmgren over there. No, he called right away. We understood him. It was more of a respect factor for the Flyers organization, especially Mr. Holmgren, because I’ve had him at the Olympics and World Cup and just an outstanding man and general manager.
And he called, but he did let us know that we had a time limit. And we totally understood because we figured most teams would probably want to do that. So no there was nothing ? there was nothing like that.
We called back and just to thank them what they offered and stuff after Brier signed. And, no, nothing there with Holmgren. He’s straight forward from the get?go and he did an outstanding job.
Q. You’ve been in Anchorage long enough to see the Flyers all these times over the years. Since February, nine new faces, what do you think of this team? Do they look completely different to you?
SCOTT GOMEZ: A lot of people forget what they went through last year with the injuries right off the bat. Some of the young guys, I mean they got hurt and at the end it was a different team. Yeah, I think as a NHL hockey player and as a fan of the league, the league needs the Philadelphia Flyers to be good.
And I think Mr. Holmgren has done a great job. The guys he’s brought in are definitely character guys. I know Daniel pretty good and just a great hockey player but also great in the locker room. He added some D. But the young guys they’ve got, they’re going to be ready to step in. So I think Philadelphia will be right back on its feet and it’s good for hockey. It’s good for ? probably not good for us, but it makes the rivalry even better with the Rangers and Flyers.
Q. You’ve had a good rivalry, Devils and Flyers. But people would say the Flyers/Rangers is the rivalry for New York and Philadelphia. Unique that a player gets to do both in his career.
SCOTT GOMEZ: Yeah, every time runs at the Cup or whatever we had in New Jersey, you always knew Philly was going to be in there and played some great games. Just every game. That was kind of tough for us last year knowing that we walked in that building, kind of wasn’t the same because they were struggling. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like being a Ranger, because everything goes up when you’re in New York. That’s definitely ? it’s just the way it is. And I’m looking really forward to that.
Q. Less than three years ago you suffered a broken pelvis in a game and did you ever wonder in the days following that after that about your future in the sport?
SCOTT GOMEZ: No. I got hit pretty bad from behind. But what happened was it was a cracked ? and I’m talking about the littlest line I could even draw ? it was a cracked pubis. When I’m lying on the bed and they give me some pain medication, I’m kind of drowsy. I look over to my left and the sports writer is right next to me.
So I guess that was a little different with the East Coast. And I was just, when I woke up the next morning and I read the paper that I had a broken pelvis and a broken hip, it was all news to me.
So I think that was the worst part of it was all that was false. I didn’t have any of that. I was on the dance floor in about a week, if that. And it’s just one of those things, I guess. It shows you the power you guys have a little bit. Because it wasn’t. It was a cracked little pubis.
If it was NHL, I probably would have played the next game. That was the worst part, none of that was true and I had to answer that completely. No, not for one bit. Like I said if it was the NHL playoffs I would have definitely been playing the next game.
Q. The average fan looks at your compensation figure on NHL.com and says what does a fellow playing hockey do with that kind of money. You can pass on this question if you want. But I wondered if you had anything, if you purchased a chain of pizza stores? Strictly invested your money? What’s the situation?
SCOTT GOMEZ: No, I just cashed it all in and went hog wild for a week. Looks like I’m going to have to play a little longer. No, I have ? I’m a hockey player, there’s no doubt about it. That’s my job. And I have wonderful people that look after it and I have people that look after that and they look after that.
So, yeah, obviously the main thing is my folks and everyone’s taken care of. But nothing has changed. I live as my friends say “ghetto fabulous.” I’m not a jewelry or car guy. I live in Alaska and it wouldn’t be accepted up there anyway if I were to change.
But if I need a job in about 10 years, I hope you’re going to help me.
Q. I want to know what your thoughts were on The Amp Energy NHL Winter Classic game that was announced yesterday and would you be interested in participating in the outdoor game at some point in your career?
SCOTT GOMEZ: I think the way the league is and the way the game is, it all boils down to the fans. Truly mean that. We’re the ones that play this game ? if they want it, I think we give them what they want. And I think you talk to guys that played in that outdoor game. Probably a neat experience. If it works and helps the league out, yeah, why not? It probably would be quite the experience.
Q. What are your thoughts also on the premier series, NHL heading over to England, playing a few regular season games over there between the Ducks and Kings?
SCOTT GOMEZ: If it’s great for the game, if helps expand it, I think it’s great, too, because also one thing about our sport that once people see a live hockey game, they’re going to come back for more. It’s just the way it is. It’s kind of tough sometimes when it’s on TV just from the fan’s point of view. But if you get a fan to really see a live professional hockey game, especially right now with the product of the speed and everything, fans get into it.
So if it would help overseas and it helps our game, that’s what I hope for.
Q. How much fuel do you think you can add to this rivalry which has been going on for 25 years?
SCOTT GOMEZ: I think I put a little gas on it, that’s for sure. And, like I said, talking to some of the guys over there, it’s going to be ? you know the first couple of years in the league I never got to experience the Rangers/Devils because of the fact the Rangers were going through some changes and whatever. But the last couple of years with the team making the playoffs and us playing them, the Devils at the time, you could tell.
And I think probably right now it’s probably pretty hot right now with the new rink and me coming over here. It should be good for hockey. We’ll see what happens.
Q. You’ll be in the new building as an opponent, do you have any feelings about that, being they’ll be in the new building?
SCOTT GOMEZ: It’s great for the guys. I enjoy the Continental. But for the fans hopefully it will go well. They have options to go to dinners and meet at bars and stuff like that. It might be a little different because I never played in that building. So I will always be connected with the Continental.
So it’s also kind of bittersweet, meaning I left. I’m not a part of that, the new building on that. That’s for those guys. But I’m really excited where I’m at.
Q. I know you’re a low key guy but we know you’re always on that best dressed list.
SCOTT GOMEZ: I never heard of that. You should have seen the people’s eyes.
Q. How important is it for you to stay in New York? Will we see you doing commercials? We know the Rangers are high profile and they have a lot of ? will we see you on TV more, maybe on the side of a bus?
SCOTT GOMEZ: It’s not my call. You’d have to ask the Rangers PR. But they saw some of my commercials from Alaska the other day and I don’t know if they’re going to have me doing any more of those. But, no, hey, whatever helps sell the game. I know what I was getting into when I came to New York. That’s part of it. And, hey, I mean it’s a big city. It’s what it’s about. And that comes with it.
They ask you to do something, yeah, I’m more than willing because of the fact that whatever helps our game, whatever helps the New York Rangers. But I don’t think you’re going to see me modeling or doing any of that. Maybe. I don’t know. Just depends.
Q. With the Devils, you were there through a lot of departures, guys leaving the team: Alex Mogilny, Bobby Holik, and yet every single year the Devils managed to be a strong playoff team. Is the resiliency of the franchise due to Brodeur or due to the way the organization operates from top to bottom?
SCOTT GOMEZ: It obviously starts with Marty. But the defense, the guys they’ve drafted in the past, it’s one thing about it right away. You’re there to win. You’ll never ? it will start from the top definitely. And you just learn how to do it. You learn from how it was done, what’s expected of you and at the end of the day all that matters is getting the two points.
So I think also they draft great guys. Zach and Zajac and those kids, especially Zach, he’s going to make some noise in this league. Hey, Marty, the way to win in this league is goaltending, could go down as one of the greatest ever. Helps night in, night out.
Q. You’re moving through a team with a very good goaltender in Henrik, finalist in his first two seasons in the league. You spent time with Jagr. You mentioned your time with Mogilny. Spent a decent amount of time playing alongside Patrik Elias. What were the similarities and differences in the styles, what you’re seeing now from Jagr as contrasted against Mogilny and Elias.
SCOTT GOMEZ: Alex was ? Almo was more, we would come down together and I could leave wherever. I saw him score goals. All I’d do is pass to him at the blue line and he’d take a wrist shot and score top shelf goals. And Patty and GO knew how to get open. Brian, you could throw bombs at the front of the net and he would always seem to get it. Jagr, from what I’ve seen in the week, I mean we all ? probably the strongest player I’ve ever seen. And I’ve played with them. We’ve already gone over. He gets the puck in the corner.
It’s still a learning process. We’re still ? I’ve never really played with a guy that likes the puck, too, that doesn’t mind skating with the puck in the zone. So we’ll tinker with that.
But I’ve always had the same ? I’ve always had the same mind?set is that it’s my job as a centerman to get my linemates the puck, put them in the position where they have the easiest thing to score.
I’m not going to change that end. And this guy is, like I said, I gotta kind of stop, forget I’m on the ice with him because sometimes I just sit and watch what he’s doing on the ice. I forget I have to get open for him.
But hopefully it works out. If it doesn’t, like I said me and Almo and Patrick we all didn’t work out in the beginning either. Both guys, we got separated for couple of weeks, a month. For whatever reason, next time you get back, it clicks. Hopefully it clicks right away and we can help whatever we can do to win.
Q. I’m wondering how important you think it is to have an American?born and raised player in a market like New York, and do you feel like you’re following the footsteps of players like Brian Leetch and Mike Richter?
SCOTT GOMEZ: Yeah, after I signed and I talked with Chris on the phone, that’s one thing I said. Getting to know both those guys, Leetch and Richter, just the story they had. I think being a U.S. kid, hockey was at its best in ‘94 when like you said the first Conn Smythe Trophy. Those were our idols when they’re on the biggest stage, yeah. Hopefully me and Chris, I mean U.S.A. hockey is looking, it’s on the upswing definitely. All those guys that carried it, brought it, put it on the map. It’s kind of our turn.
If we can have success here, let’s face it, it’s the biggest market. It’s the capital of the world. And when those guys won the Cup back then, it just took hockey to another level for us U.S. players and hopefully we can do the same.
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