When the NHL lockout began most of the NHL brotherhood headed off to Europe to make some quick cash, take in the sights and keep the legs in motion. The pace of the Euro hockey wasn't as smashmouth as the North American option and for the most part your year would be done by the first week of April, playoffs included!
So many took a double check when Scott Gomez announced that he was going to anchor down in Anchorage for the lockout. Gomez returned home to play for the Anchorage Aces in the ECHL, a rather rough and tumble lower tiered league with franchises flung across North America.
Saturday night that plan came to a quick and brutal end as Gomez was hit from behind by the Bakersfield Condor's Ashlee Langdone. The hit propelled Gomez into the gate at the bench and then on to Bakersfield hospital. The Aces today announced that Gomez was gone for the season having suffered a fractured pubis bone in the incident.
The Anchorage coach Davis Payne was livid after the game, even before learning of the fate of Gomez. Suggesting that Langdone's hit was despicable going after a superstar who had done the ECHL a huge favour by playing the season with the loop.
And that's the point of how this lockout may cost not only the NHLPA but the NHL some players before play returns. By having the players sell themselves off in all directions the NHL loses control over their former assets well being. The recovery period originally for Gomez was reported to be three months which must have sent Lou Lamoriello looking for the Advil, but later reports suggest that Gomez could be back in training in three to four weeks, a much better scenario than that originally expected. The injury will however keep him out of the American entry in this years World Championships later this month.
Injuries are a well known hazard of the game, but for a tier one player to possibly have his career ruined in such a meaningless fashion shows just how high the stakes are in the dispute. The NHL had best find a solution to their labour woes quickly before any more of the former stars of the league suffer similar misfortune.