MONTREAL – Brian Gionta is looking forward to a reunion with his former New Jersey linemate Scott Gomez now that both are members of the Montreal Canadiens.
The two forwards were both acquired this week by Montreal, which made sweeping changes as the free agency period opened.
Each had his best season in 2005-06 with the Devils, when centre 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 and hopefully we can get that back.
“Everybody knows how Scott can play. He’s an extremely talented centreman who sees the ice well and is a great passer.”
The Canadiens acquired Gomez in a seven-player trade on Tuesday that sent winger Chris Higgins to the New York Rangers.
A day later, they added Gionta as an unrestricted free. They may have completed their top line by signing former Calgary Flames left-winger Mike Cammalleri as a free agent the same day. They also signed defencemen Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill.
A plus for the former Devils is that they flourished with a defence-oriented club in New Jersey, which 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,” said Gionta.
The five-foot-seven 175-pound Gionta signed a US$25 million, five-year contract while the Canadiens will pay an average of $7.35 million per year for the five seasons left on Gomez’ deal.
On Thursday, the Canadiens announced the signing of minor league players Mike Glumac, Mathieu Darche and Alex Henry to two-way contracts for the 2009-2010 season.