ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez signed a contract Monday with the minor league Alaska Aces to play for $500 a week until the NHL lockout ends, a spokesman for the Anchorage team said.
''It was a no-brainer,'' Gomez told KTUU-TV. ''Money's not everything.''
Gomez, a 2000 NHL rookie of the year, will make his debut with the AA-level ECHL team on Friday.
''It's a shot in the arm,'' said team spokesman Jack Michaels. ''In the last couple of hours, we've sold 250 tickets for Friday night and 25 season tickets.''
The NHL lockout began 40 days ago. No negotiations between the league and the players association are scheduled.
Gomez, who was New Jersey's first-round draft pick in 1998, was awarded a one-year, $2.9 million contract in an arbitration settlement in August for this season, but players are not paid during the lockout.
Gomez earned $1 million last season, when he had 14 goals and 56 assists in 80 games. He helped New Jersey win Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003.
''Scott, as you can imagine, had far more lucrative offers to play overseas, including Russia, but he opted to play for his hometown team,'' Michaels said.
Gomez attended Anchorage's East High School.
Michaels said Gomez will live in the Aces' team apartments and travel with the rest of the team.
Gomez participated in his first practice Monday. The Aces play the San Diego Gulls on Friday at Sullivan Arena.
The ECHL season runs from October through April, with 72 scheduled games.
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