You hear it all the time in Alaska. Someone’s living the dream.
Now ask Scott Gomez. He lived the dream.
After 16 seasons in the National Hockey League, the Anchorage native and Alaska’s most decorated hockey player made it official Wednesday: he’s retiring.
“I have no regrets,” the now former center said by phone Wednesday night. “It was a wild ride. Great experiences, played for great organizations.”
Gomez, 36, broke into the league with the New Jersey Devils in the 1999 – 2000 season and immediately won a Stanley Cup. His second cup also came with the Devils in 2003. Along the way he’s also played for the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and the Ottawa Senators.
He appeared in 1,079 games and scored 756 points in his NHL career.
But, Wednesday, he said it was time. The past few years have pointed in this direction.
“The game’s obviously changed. It’s different in the locker room now. It’s a little younger. It wasn’t really like when I came in, like the Wild West.” he said.
It can be difficult for athletes to give up what they’ve been doing for the balance of their lives. On the night he made it official, he was wistful but realistic.
“I’m never going to make a pass again, be on a power play, never going to get ready to take a pregame nap. Those little things kind of reminisce in your mind and in saying that, it’s part of life,” said Gomez. “The main part is is knowing that I’m not going to play hockey again. That’s just weird especially just being back home.”
And after a decade and a half — an eternity in any professional sports league — the road has led him back home to Alaska.
Now, he is former NHL star Scott Gomez.