Hockey is back. Puck fans all across North America rejoiced last month as the NHL ended a lengthy lockout and players returned to the rink. Some of Alaska’s best players returned to their hometown Aces during the break, but a new NHL season means it’s time for an update on the whereabouts of the Last Frontier’s finest:
Scott Gomez: Former winner of the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in the NHL after the 2000 season, Anchorage native Gomez has enjoyed a long hockey career.
Despite his professional success, the two-time Stanley Cup champion has twice returned to his home state during NHL labor disputes and played for the ECHL’s Aces. Oh, and he starred in some quality local GCI commercials, too.
After being granted his release from the Montreal Canadiens in January, the veteran center was signed to a one-year contract by the San Jose Sharks for the 2013 season.
Brandon Dubinsky: The Service High School grad is entering his sixth full season in the NHL and finds himself on a new team for the first time in his career.
After being traded by the New York Rangers at the end of the 2012 season, Dubinsky takes his talents – and a sweet hockey guy name – to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dubinsky hopes to see a return to form from his 2011 season, when he reached career-highs in goals and assists.
Joey Crabb: Crabb had the best run of all the players that returned to the Aces, notching 17 goals and 21 assists in 35 games in the ECHL. The talented right wing was born in Anchorage and attended Dimond High School.
Crabb bounced around with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers in his NHL career before landing a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals at the end of last season. He appears to be hitting his stride and is the only one from this group to have scored a goal in the young NHL season.
Nate Thompson: After being drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2003 and serving a couple brief stints with the New York Islanders, Thompson has found his home with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thompson – who’s also an Anchorage native – has logged more minutes in each of the last two seasons with Tampa than any other year of his career.