Scotty Gomez Named NHL Rookie of the Year

Minutes before the first game of Scotty Gomez’s National Hockey League career, New Jersey Devils captain Scott Stevens wandered past a small room adjacent to the dressing room, then did a double-take to confirm the confounding sight he had glimpsed out of the corner of his eye.

Gomez was kicked back on a couch, in full gear, reading a newspaper.

Apparently, the kid from Anchorage, just 19, wasn’t riddled with anxiety before his 1999 debut in the world’s best league.

He soon proved why.

Gomez didn’t earn a point in his debut, but the center racked two assists in his second game. He scored his first goal and added two primary assists in his sixth game. By the 20-game mark, he owned 5-17—22 scoring totals and was on the march to becoming the league’s runaway winner of the Calder Memorial Award as Rookie of the Year in 2000.

Gomez delivered 19-51—70 scoring totals across all 82 regular-season games to finish with 37 percent more points than the next highest rookie scorer, Colorado center Alex Tanguay (17-34—51). He copped the Calder by earning 49 of 58 first-place votes, nine second-place votes and 553 points, more than double runner-up Brad Stuart’s 250 points. It marked the first time since Teemu Selanne’s record 76-goal season earned him the Calder unanimously in 1993 that the winner received more than double the runner-up’s vote total.

And with that, Gomez stamped his name on a trophy previously won by Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, Pavel Bure and Martin Brodeur – Hall of Famers all.

When Gomez’s friend and trainer Louis Mass of Anchorage once asked him if he was anxious about his NHL debut, Gomez laughed and said, no, he was excited to live his dream.

Gomez went on to become the most prolific and decorated hockey player in Alaska history.

That 1999-2000 rookie campaign ended sweetly for Gomez and the Devils.

They lifted the Stanley Cup, making it a two- trophy debut season for the kid from Airport Heights.

Doyle Woody