SOCHI - Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings has been named as the starter for the United States for the first game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, coach Dan Bylsma announced Wednesday.
The Americans play Slovakia on Thursday at Shayba Arena (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Perhaps the most important decision Bylsma will make during his time in Russia was delivered in the most casual of ways before the third and final practice for the team, which took place at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
"It was pretty casual," Quick said. "We were on the ice stretching and he just came over and said it.
"We have three great goalies on this team and everyone wants to start. I'm just fortunate for the opportunity and want to make the best of it."
For Quick, the start against the Slovaks completes a stunning four-year ascension from third-string goalie in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to starter in the first game for the Americans this time around. In between, Quick also won a Stanley Cup, leading the Kings to the title in 2012.
In the three postseasons since the 2010 Olympics, Quick has won 29 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 16 in 2012.
"I think the biggest thing is being able to play with the guys I play with back in L.A.," he said. "This says a lot about them. When you play with great players they put you in a position for opportunities like this."
Quick, who became a full-time NHL starter six years ago, has won 35 or more regular-season games three times.
"I'm happy for him as a teammate," said Dustin Brown, a center for the American team and the captain for the Kings. "I think he has played well enough since the last Olympics to earn a spot."
Bylsma said Quick's recent pedigree played a role in the decision, perhaps trumping the Olympic pedigree of Ryan Miller, who will serve as the backup against Slovakia.
Miller, of the Buffalo Sabres, was the starter for the Americans in 2010, winning the Most Valuable Player award when the Americans finished second, losing the gold-medal game to Canada in overtime. Miller started every game for the Americans four years ago.
"It was the coach's decision," Miller said. "Obviously, I want to play and compete and do my part. Right now, I will just back up Jon. He's a great goalie and he is going to do great for us. We'll see where it goes from here and I'll just be ready to play."
Miller may still get that opportunity.
Bylsma stressed Wednesday his decision is only for the game against Slovakia. He has not made a commitment to stick with Quick and does not know at this point if Miller will see time in the preliminary round, which features games against Russia on Saturday and Slovenia on Sunday.
Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings is the third goalie on the U.S. roster.
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Senior Managing Editor