Ex-Devils Gionta, Gomez reunite
Gomez was acquired as part of a six-player trade on Tuesday, and Gionta made the move north of the border one day later when the Canadiens made sweeping changes as the free agent signing period began.
Each player had his best season in 2005-06 with the Devils, when center Gomez had 33 goals and 51 assists and winger Gionta scored 48 goals and added 41 assists.
"We grew up playing for USA Hockey together since we were 15, so there's a history there," Gionta said Thursday on a conference call. "And being in New Jersey together, we had some chemistry. Hopefully we can get that back.
"Everybody knows how Scott can play. He's an extremely talented centerman who sees the ice well and is a great passer."
The Canadiens acquired Gomez in the big deal that sent forward Christopher Higgins to the Rangers. Gionta left the Devils a few hours after he became an unrestricted free agent, and Montreal might have completed the building of its new top line by signing former Calgary Flames left winger Michael Cammalleri as a free agent on Wednesday.
A plus for the former Devils is that they flourished in a defensive-oriented system in New Jersey. That is how the Canadiens are expected to play under new coach Jacques Martin.
"I have a lot of respect for him and the way he handles his team," Gionta said.
The 5-foot-7, 175-pound forward signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Canadiens, who also absorbed a salary-cap hit of $7.35 million per season for the five years left on Gomez' deal.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press