WEST ORANGE, N.J. -- Scott Gomez woke up in an Anchorage hospital bed last March, unaware of reports that his playing days might be over.
Gomez, a member of the ECHL's Alaska Aces, had been participating in a heated playoff game when he was checked into an open bench door, crushing his body into the steel latch.
He doesn't remember much after that. He certainly was unaware that a reporter from the local newspaper had spread a story suggesting he had suffered career-threatening injuries, including a broken pelvis and broken hip.
SIZE OF A PINKY
In reality, tales of his demise, in this instance, had been greatly exaggerated.
"I had a small crack in my pelvis the size of a pinky, that's all," recalled Gomez, whose New Jersey Devils host the Maple Leafs tonight in a New Year's Eve tilt at the Continental Airlines Arena.
"It was just one of those deals where it looked worse than it really was. I remember coming around in the hospital, still all drugged up, looking out from my bed and seeing the writer sitting there."
The reporter subsequently apologized to Gomez over and over again for blowing the young forward's injuries out of proportion.
"I told him 'I feel like I should be walking with a limp,' " Gomez said.
Nine months later, the Anchorage native has fully recovered from that scary incident. He scored the Devils' only goals in a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday, his 10th and 11th of the season.
Yet his team continues to struggle, something Gomez has not been accustomed to in his brief NHL career.
"This is uncharted water for us, playing around .500," he said. "We have no excuses, but I still feel we have what it takes."
Meanwhile, he still thinks about playing for his hometown Anchorage team, where one fan throws a salmon on the ice when the Aces score.
"It was fun playing there," said Gomez, who was the ECHL MVP after notching 86 points in 61 games.
"Maybe it will help my political aspirations once my career is over."