Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 17
The Stanley Cup Journal

(July 18, 2003) — Hanging on the wall in the Crossroads Lounge is a photograph of 'local boy makes good,' Scott Gomez, with the Stanley Cup. In 2000, when Gomez shared his Stanley Cup celebration with the residents of Anchorage, he inscribed the photo, 'I'll be back. Scott Gomez.' On Monday night, Scott Gomez kept his promise.

Gomez poses with two members of the Anchorage Police Department.
Monday was a sensational day in Anchorage. The sun shone brightly and the Alaskan mercury pushed to 70 beautiful degrees when the Stanley Cup arrived at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport at 7:30 that evening. Scott Gomez and his father, Carlos, were waiting at the gate along with Alaska's Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman and a large gathering of hockey fans. After a visit with awaiting media, Scott climbed aboard a limo bus with the Stanley Cup and, with the Anchorage Police Department escorting, took the trophy directly to the people. The bus pulled up in front of Crossroads Lounge and, with a throng of fans cheering wildly, Scott carried the Stanley Cup into the club and proceeded to fill the silver bowl with Dom Perignon, allowing fans to sip champagne from hockey's championship trophy just like their heroes did a few short weeks earlier. After an hour at Crossroads, the limo bus went over to Sullivan's Steakhouse, one of Anchorage's finest restaurants and jazz venues. Gomez walked the Stanley Cup around the restaurant, much to the delight of the clientele, then after a few photos with the staff, made his way to the next stop.

The Gomez family planned a private party for 300 of Scott's closest friends right downtown at the Hilton Anchorage on West Third Avenue. Again, the gleaming bowl of the Stanley Cup was filled to the brim with champagne, and after Scott's parents, Carlos and Dalia Gomez, took their celebratory sips, every guest got to taste the nectar of champions from the finest vessel in sport. There was also an auction that featured, amongst other items, one of Scott's Devils' jerseys, a jersey from the NHL All-Star Game and a game-used stick. Proceeds went to the American Heart Association.

It was already into the early hours of Tuesday morning when Scott took the Cup over to Chilkoot Charlie's to say hi to the fans. During Alaskan summers, the sun doesn't set, so although it was well past midnight, the sky was still bright and the streets were still full. The owners of the saloon poured beer after beer into the Stanley Cup, and again, the residents of Anchorage got to sip from the Stanley Cup. Scott climbed onto the stage and saluted the crowd. "You guys are unbelievable!" he started, to monstrous Chilkoot Charlie cheers. "This is for you and all the support you've given me and my family all along the way!" The applause didn't end for several minutes, and Gomez beamed as he slapped the hands of all around him.

The neighbourhood bids a very early good morning to the Cup.
It was 4AM when Scott finally arrived back at the family home, and like the sun, the revelers were still up. The music bounced and the Gomez residence rocked until six in the morning. But Scott had made arrangements for additional media and the neighbourhood kids to meet him at the house at 6AM, so within minutes of the clock striking oh-my-God o'clock, the living room, which had been a dance floor moments earlier, was restored to normal and the children and media had no idea that there hadn't been a moment of sleep at the Gomez home that night.

Tuesday morning, Scott and the Stanley Cup made a number of stops, all accompanied by the terrific Anchorage Police Department. They visited the firehall and met a number of firefighters and their families. Then, it was off to the Tesoro Sports Center, a local arena, where Anchorage residents could enjoy breakfast with the Cup. Scott spent more than an hour and a half posing for photographs. While he was at the rink, he popped into the offices of the Anchorage Aces, who this fall will begin playing in the ECHL. The next step for Gomez was at the Anchorage Seniors' Center, where Scott provided some of the residents with special t-shirts. Many of the residents smiled and recalled their memories of Rocket Richard and his five straight Stanley Cup championships with Montreal in the 1950s.

Scott couldn't wait to visit the Anchorage Police Department to thank Lieutenant Paul Honeman and his staff for the incredible job they had been doing escorting him and the Stanley Cup around his hometown. With a busy itinerary and a tight timeframe, 'efficiency' was the operative word and the Anchorage Police certainly supplied that. The men and women in uniform appreciated the visit and took a few moments to examine the Cup and chat with Scott. The Devils' forward made certain he took the Stanley Cup into the dispatch area so that no one had to leave his or her post in order to visit with the trophy.

Gomez at the Elmendorf Air Force Base.
After saying goodbye to the police force, Gomez visited the Elmendorf Air Force Base. The nature of the military is such that personnel from all over the country are posted to Anchorage, so there were avid fans of every single NHL team based at Elmendorf. But every hockey fan there, no matter which team they cheer for, had one thing in common - they're all fans of Scott Gomez and the Stanley Cup. An hour and a half and after meeting everyone at Elmendorf, Scott, Lieutenant Governor Leman and the Stanley Cup were escorted out onto the tarmac where a Black Hawk helicopter waited for their arrival. The pilot took the dignitaries on an aerial tour of Anchorage, circling over the impressive Alaskan city several times, then landed at Delaney Park Strip where 8,000 fans waited anxiously to see Scott Gomez and the Stanley Cup. Scott led the fire department over to a monument where the American anthem was sung proudly (and loudly!)

Mayor Mark Belgich presents Gomez with the 'Scott Gomez Day' Proclamation. Lt. Governor Loren Leman and Alaska Aces GM Derek
Donald are in the background.
Mayor Mark Begich officially welcomed Scott back home and on behalf of the citizens of Anchorage, expressed his appreciation that Scott has never lost sight of his roots. His Worship then read a proclamation that declared Tuesday, July 15 'Scott Gomez Day' in the City of Anchorage. Then, Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman stepped to the podium and thanked Scott for being a positive role model, and for drawing the hockey world's attention to Alaska for the day. The Lieutenant Governor then read a proclamation on behalf of Frank Murkowski, the Governor of the State of Alaska, that declared Tuesday, July 16 'Stanley Cup Day' in Alaska. Scott, to the thunderous ovation of the assembled, thanked everyone for their support. "This is for you, Anchorage!" he shouted, and the words had no sooner tumbled from his lips but the ovation began again. "I want you people to enjoy this moment! You deserve it and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!"

Scott Gomez Proclaimation
Anchorage, Alaska officially proclaims July 15, 2003 as 'Scott Gomez Day'.
Time was tight, and Scott worried that he wouldn't be able to meet everyone who had taken the time to come to Delaney Park Strip to greet him. The clock was ticking; the flight was scheduled for 7PM that evening and 8,000 people wanted to shake Scott's hand. Working diligently, every single fan got the chance to congratulate Gomez. But it was six o'clock. A last handshake and the Stanley Cup was packed away and placed on a nearby firetruck with Scott and the Cup's Keeper, Mike Bolt in tow. Several police cars, sirens blaring and lights flashing, led a procession that wound its way from the park to the airport. Local motorists drove onto medians or up over curbs to get out of the way. "Insane," Scott laughed, but within ten minutes, the entourage had roared into the departure area at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Scott Gomez said his goodbye to the Stanley Cup. It had been a hell of a day, and Scott had proven to be a hell of an ambassador not only to the New Jersey Devils, but also to the game of hockey. And if he's smart, after celebrating non-stop for twenty-four hours, Scott Gomez is hopefully still asleep as you read this!

The summer schedule for the Stanley Cup took an unexpected twist today (Friday, July 18) and greeted one of the greatest players ever to lace up a pair of skates. On Monday, discover which Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame was surprised by a visit from the Stanley Cup…orr you'll be sorry.

Kevin Shea is a hockey journalist and historian residing in Toronto.

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