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'There's no excuse,' Gomez says of nasty hit


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'There's no excuse,' Gomez says of nasty hit

Broken pelvic bone to take weeks to heal




Anchorage Daily News

Published: April 18th, 2005

Last Modified: April 18th, 2005 at 03:10 AM

Variously described by Scott Gomez's teammates as "horrible," "disgraceful" and "vicious," the blind-sided hit that floored the Alaska Aces star center Saturday night in Bakersfield, Calif., fractured his pubis bone, ended his hockey season and left him on crutches.

Gomez hobbled off his flight into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport early Sunday afternoon and said doctors and other medical personnel he consulted told him recovery will take at least four to six weeks and perhaps as long as three months. Gomez said he was told only rest and time will heal the fracture to the bone, which is part of the pelvis.

Gomez suffered his injury early in the second period of Alaska's 4-3 overtime loss to the Bakersfield Condors in Game 4 of the best-of-5 ECHL playoff series. As Gomez entered the Aces bench at the end of his shift, with the gate to the bench open and Gomez's back to the ice, Bakersfield enforcer Ashlee Langdone hit him from behind.

The blow drove Gomez stomach-first into the immovable boards. He fell to the floor of the bench area writhing in pain he described as far worse than what he suffered from a broken hand three seasons ago and a separated shoulder he sustained as a teenager.

The injury is arguably the most serious of Gomez's young but illustrious career. He has twice won the coveted Stanley Cup as a member of the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils, been named the NHL Rookie of the Year and an All-Star, and skated for Team USA in the prestigious World Cup.

Just 25, the Anchorage native has become a sports icon in Alaska and the state's most recognizable athlete, and his reputation was enhanced last fall when he joined the Aces.

After the NHL season washed out when owners and players could not agree on a new collective bargaining agreement -- shortly after an arbitrator awarded Gomez a one-year, $2.9 million salary -- Gomez decided to play for the Aces. Even though the ECHL is two steps below the NHL, Gomez spurned offers from Europe that would have earned him $500,000 and agreed to a salary of $500 per week because he always dreamed of playing in front of hometown crowds at Sullivan Arena.

Gomez led the ECHL in scoring this season and was named a first-team selection. Aces fans showered him with praise and affection. And his teammates repeatedly described the easygoing Gomez as just one of the guys -- not a prima donna millionaire -- who fit in perfectly.

But this feel-good story of the kid from Airport Heights who returned home came to an excruciating end Saturday night. The hit from Langdone drove Gomez's lower stomach into the boards and floored him. He said the agony of the injury was akin to being struck in the testicles, only more severe and longer-lasting.

"It's 10 times worse than that," Gomez said.

Once he gathered himself, Gomez said he asked teammates who hit him. Told it was Langdone, Gomez said, "It was not a shock."

In five professional seasons, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Langdone has carved out a reputation as a fighter and has accumulated an astounding 1,534 penalty minutes in just 246 pro games.

Gomez said Langdone violated one of the sport's unwritten but widely understood standards, which frowns upon striking a defenseless player.

"I had one foot in the door," Gomez said. "The door's open. You're vulnerable. (The hit) is something you don't do no matter what league you're in. There's no excuse."

The code, as players often call the unwritten rules, also declares that rough, less-skilled players don't prey on stars.

Langdone, who received a five-minute major penalty for boarding Gomez, told The Bakersfield Californian he didn't mean to injure Gomez.

"It wasn't anything intentional," Langdone said. "My prayers are with him."

Gomez scoffed.

"I have no respect for him," he said.

Aces co-owner Jerry Mackie told the Daily News on Sunday that an ECHL official told him Langdone would be suspended. The league had not announced such a ruling as of Sunday night.

Alaska entertains Bakersfield tonight at 7:15 at the Sullivan in the decisive game of the West Division semifinals. The series has been physical and punishing, which is not unusual in pro playoff hockey, and the Condors have made a point of hounding Gomez to rob him of the time and space he uses so cleverly as the league's premier playmaker.

Sunday, Gomez arrived home wearing his Aces sweatsuit and a baseball cap and walking slowly on crutches. He was picked up at the airport by his mother, Dalia, father and agent, Carlos, older sister Monica and younger sister Natalie.

For a guy whose season was over, he was remarkably even-keeled. Gomez said he had spoken by phone with New Jersey teammates Jay Pandolfo and Jim McKenzie and Devils medical staff and had phone messages from New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello and several other Devils.

Meanwhile, Gomez's teammates were scheduled to arrive home later Sunday after a long layover in Seattle.

Aces winger Mike Scott, reached on his cell phone in Seattle, said he was stationed just inside the gate at the Alaska bench when Langdone hit Gomez. Scott called the check the cheapest shot he has ever witnessed.

"Quite honestly, it was probably the worst thing I've ever seen in my career," Scott said. "It was horrible. Hitting from behind, that's not part of the game, especially to hit a world-class player when you're a marginal player in the ECHL.

"It's disgraceful, to be honest with you. It's an attack on a great player. He's been such a great ambassador for this league and for our team. Those are marquee players people come to watch. People don't come to watch Ashlee Langdone skate around the ice.

"It's a black eye on this league."

Aces forward Joe Talbot, also reached in Seattle, said he was next to Scott on the bench when Langdone hit Gomez. Talbot said he had no doubt Langdone tried to hurt Gomez.

"It was pretty vicious," Talbot said. "It was definitely an intent to injure."

Gomez said he likely will attend tonight's Game 5 to encourage his teammates, whom he helped earn the league's second-best record in the regular season. The Aces have said they won't be satisfied with anything less than the Kelly Cup as league champions.

"What a great bunch of guys," he said. "What a great opportunity. But we're still a great team."

Talbot said that as much as the Aces want to stick up for their injured teammate, they need to keep their eye on the prize tonight.

"It's definitely going to be tough," Talbot said. "Anytime your best player gets hurt in that fashion, it weighs heavy on you. But we've got a Game 5, and even Gomez said (Saturday night), 'The W is the biggest thing.'

"That's what Scotty wants us to do -- win."

Besides, Mike Scott intimated, even if Langdone doesn't play tonight, there's always next season.

"Things like that have a way of being taken care of down the road," Scott said.

Daily News reporter Doyle Woody can be reached at dwoody@adn.com.


ACES PLAYOFF GAME TONIGHT: Gomez's teammates are angry and ready to play. Team owners, however, urge fans to refrain from any illegal behavior.

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Just reading about the pain and the area where Gomez felt pain...makes me wince with pain - and nobody hit me thank goodness!

All I have left to say ont his issue is: The Alaska Aces Rule!

And if the Wheeling Nailers cannot win the Kelly Cup...then why not my newest bestest favoritist ECHL club...the Alaska Aces.

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Not a good bone for him to fracture considering his rumoured personal life.

I Was alos surprised to learn that i make more than 2 times what Gomez makes haha... big pay cut he took

My thoughts are with him hoping he heals well

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Good to see he's still in good spirits and I'd assume ok for the NHL season next year, but this sh!t seems to happen all too often in hockey, the penalty for this should be most like the one Bertuzzi is getting personally.....

not to hijack a thread this time but I can't help but wonder if I am related to the owner of the Aces ( $$$$$ :evil: )

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Ok well good I think it's pretty much like I called it... Poor Gomez.

So any wagers on how long before he calls Petra Nemkova to commiserate on the pain of a broken pelvis? :saddevil: sorry that was kind of in poor taste huh? I'm goin' to hell... :(

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not to hijack a thread this time but I can't help but wonder if I am related to the owner of the Aces ( $$$$$  :evil: )


Do the Aces even make much money? I think a couple of years ago they were having some money issues. I think Butch Goring was the coach at the time.

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I thought the Article said he turned down 500k in Europe to play in his home for $500 a week?  no?

Did i read it wrong?


That is probably the right figure but yeah he turned down the money to play here. He did go to Russia for a game or two but didn't like it and came back.

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ok... i didnt feel like reading it again but people were asking how much he made..so i figured maybe since they didnt see it when reading.. i might have misread.

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