At last, the big day has arrived. We've waited through the long, dreary months; through the heartbreaking playoff loss last spring, the interminable hockeyless summer, the disappointing start to the season in the fall and the hopeless, frustrating winter. It's been so long since Canadiens fans have had something to celebrate, but now the waiting is over.
Scott Gomez today has achieved something no other 7-million dollar player in NHL history has managed. When the final siren sounds at the Bell Centre this afternoon, he will have gone an entire calendar year without scoring a goal. That's impressive. A player who regularly gets 15+ minutes of ice time, including on the PP, every game without managing to have the puck at least bounce off his ass into the net has to be either singularly terrible or epically unlucky or both.
Among those who have scored more goals than Gomez this year are: Hal Gill, Mike Blunden, Louis Leblanc and Frederic St.Denis. In fact, the only other Canadiens with zero goals this year are temporary fourth-line call ups Aaron Palushaj and Andreas Engqvist. It's actually pretty stunning as far as futility goes.
To be fair, it's not really as bad as it sounds, though. Gomez' calendar year includes only 51 regular-season games and seven in the playoffs. Because he's been hurt so often this year, the dry spell has really lasted less than a full NHL season. Of course, even though he hasn't scored any goals, he has certainly had assists. Eighteen of them. And four more in the playoffs. That's a value of $416667 per assist. It's better value than the Penguins have gotten out of their highest-paid player in the last calendar year. Sidney Crosby's two goals and ten assists in eight games cost the Pens $750000 apiece. Compared to that, Gomez is a bargain.
We can't forget the intangibles Gomez brings to the room either. He's a fun guy; a chatty guy. He keeps things light. He pretends that the year-long drought doesn't really bother him and fans can boo if they want to. He doesn't let criticism get to him, and even apologizes for his lack of productivity when pressed. And he's a veteran with a Calder Trophy and two Stanley Cup rings to his credit. The rings are very important. They were a big part of the reason why Bob Gainey traded for him, even though he was seventh in team scoring on both of those Cup-winning Devils teams.
There's a lot to celebrate today, on Scott Gomez Day. As of today, the Canadiens are one loss closer to picking the young centre who will make us forget Gomez ever existed. Fans are one game closer to seeing the team purge itself of Gomez, his attitude and his unremitting failure for good. We're sixty minutes away from the unheard-of marvel of a full year without scoring for a top-six player paid to be a star. The Canadiens haven't set a significant team record since they came back from 5-0 down against the Rangers four years ago. For a franchise that prides itself on milestones and records, four years is a long time to wait for a significant event. The Gomez anniversary ends that wait. It also gives the marketing department something to do, in developing a line of 365 Days of Gomez products.
When Gomez was acquired three years ago, I wrote this about the trade. It was a hateful deal then and has only become more so in the years since. Happy anniversary, Scott Gomez. Thanks for the memories.