Win and learn
|Gomez and Ovi, in the first round of the 2009 playoffs.|
“There are so many things at play when it comes to playoff success. I think that’s what makes this time of year so great. I’m not trying to say: ‘Here’s the recipe to win’ because anything can happen in the playoffs,” warned Gomez who boasts a Canadiens-high 114 playoff games under his belt.
This just in: Gomez knows what he’s talking about. After winning his first Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Devils in 2000, he added another ring to his collection only three years later.
“That was a whole other era. In my early years with the Devils, it was like we were in the Cup Finals every year. It was all I knew. I thought getting to the Finals was automatic,” shrugged Gomez. “That’s what the Devils were all about.”
No longer the green young center who won his first Cup as a 20-year-old, Gomez is looking forward to passing on some of postseason acumen to his Canadiens teammates.
“As a veteran, it’s up to me to be an example to younger guys by working hard. It’s my job to help prepare the ones who have never experienced the playoffs before,” explained Gomez just before leaving for Washington. “I was in their position when I was starting out and I had older guys help me out a lot. Now it’s my turn to lead them.”
In a Habs dressing room that’s as equally made up of grizzled veterans as it is kids, the combined wisdom of players like Gomez, Brian Gionta, Roman Hamrlik, Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek will play an important role for the upset-minded Canadiens.
“The ultimate is to win the Cup. There isn’t even a point to upsetting a favored team if the ultimate goal isn’t to be the last team standing. That’s something I learned from Mr. Lamoriello,” recalled Gomez of his former GM with whom he made the playoffs in all eight of his seasons in New Jersey. “Nothing else matters, really. If you don’t win the Cup, it was a bad year. To reach that goal, all that’s important is our next game.”
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Manny Almela.
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