Before Scott Gomez even hit his teenage years, the buzz began building in Anchorage’s hockey community.
This kid is a special one, went the chorus from the puck prophets. He could be The One.
Gomez did not disappoint — he is unquestionably Alaska’s greatest hockey player, and its most decorated.
Possessed of imagination and creativity, a hunger for hockey and a joy for it as well, he raced through the rink ranks with an unusual knock-kneed skating style, a prolific scoring touch and, always, an infectious smile. Where others saw obstacles, Gomez glimpsed opportunities, which he exploited with precise passing, an uncanny understanding of how to create time and space, and a prescience that awed us.
Gomez ripped through high school and youth hockey. In both his seasons at East High, he was the state’s player of the year. He led the Alaska All Stars to a USA Hockey national championship.
He was the British Columbia Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year, then a Western Hockey League All-Star, then a first-round draft pick of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and that league’s Rookie of the Year in 2000.
Gomez twice has been a Stanley Cup champion and has represented his country in many international competitions, including the 2006 Olympics.
Each time the Devils won the Cup with Gomez, he brought the cherished chalice back home and shared it with Anchorage. He has never relinquished his roots — he has always called himself “just a kid from Airport Heights,” where he still lives in the off-season. When the NHL suffered through a lockout in 2004-05 and big-money offers came his way from Europe, Gomez instead embraced the chance to play for his hometown Alaska Aces in the minor leagues.
He’s ever the kid from Airport Heights: The One.
– Doyle Woody