JONATHAN QUICK Counted among the best of his peers, Jonathan Quick rewrote Los Angeles Kings goaltending records, backstopped them to their first ever Stanley Cup in their nearly half-century of existence, and, maybe most remarkably, nobody ever saw him coming.
Selected in the third round, 72nd overall by the Kings, Quick was the eighth goalie chosen in the 2005 NHL amateur draft and was far from being heralded as joining the next generation of world beaters in net. In fact, he wasn’t even pegged to become the Kings’ goaltender of the future; rather, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Jonathan Bernier, whom L.A. chose with their first pick in 2006, would be slated for that role.
Clearly someone needed to emerge as the next Rogie Vachon or Kelly Hrudey, as the Kings were anything but stable in goal in those years, with Mathieu Garon, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Jason LaBarbera, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, and Erik Ersberg taking turns blocking shots for L.A.
Quick managed to elbow his way through the crowd long enough to make his first start, which came on December 6, 2007, against the Buffalo Sabres.
Of the 8-2 home victory, Quick said, “You get out there and your nerves are going. But once you make a couple saves, it’s just like another game. Obviously it’s a little quicker than most games you ever played, but it’s just another game, and you’re just trying to take it one shift at a time, one shot at a time.”
It was 2008–09 when Quick turned heads, starting 41 of the club’s last 50 games. Although seemingly having earned the confidence of the coaching staff as the starter, Quick dismissed any notions he’d safely secured the number-one position: “While it was happening, you never really get the feeling like, ‘I’m the guy.’ You just every day try to prove to the coaches and teammates that you belong there.”
There was no doubt where he belonged the following year, when he built on his previous season’s accomplishments, breaking a Kings goaltending record by playing 72 games and winning 39.
He also earned a spot on the 2010 U.S. Olympic squad, behind Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Bruin Tim Thomas. At the time, U.S. coach Ron Wilson said, “I’m very impressed with him. Jonathan Quick’s the future of USA goaltending right now.”
Quick also earned positive reviews during the 2010 playoffs in the Kings’ first-round match against Vancouver.
“He’s just so fast post to post. And he covers the bottom of the net really well, which forces you to go upstairs,” Canuck Alex Burrows marvelled after one game.
Daniel Sedin said, “He’s got a quick glove hand. Really quick. So the best plan is to get a lot of pucks on him and get some traffic in front of him so he can’t see the puck as well.”
But it would be in 2011–12 that Quick did the seemingly impossible, given his modest origins, and challenged for the Vezina Trophy as best regular season goalie, winning playoff MVP honours, and capturing the Stanley Cup in L.A.’s first ever championship season in 45 years.
Born on January 21, 1986, in Milford, Connecticut, Quick’s hockey roots began on the streets—literally. Quick related, “I got into it because I enjoyed playing street hockey. I was the goalie every time we played and I enjoyed that.”
He talked his parents into taking him down to the local parks and rec department, where they rented goaltending equipment for him. By the time he was eight and a confirmed Mike Richter and New York Rangers booster, his parents recognized the seriousness of his intentions and bought him his own gear.
Tending goal in the Mid Fairfield Youth Hockey Association, Quick played on consecutive national championships. After two seasons at Hamden High, he transferred to Avon Old Farms, where he shone with a 53-8 record and 11 shutouts in three years. His Beavers also took consecutive New England championships, in 2004 and 2005.
The Kings drafted Quick in 2005, but he went Joe College before trying to go pro, heading to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Quick played backup his freshman year on a losing team but took over the starting duties the next year, turning the club around while setting school records for single-season wins and games played. He also took the Minutemen to their first ever NCAA Ice Hockey Championship in his sophomore year.
Undoubtedly talented, Quick was still young and green, according to L.A. goaltending coach Bill Ranford. “When I went and saw Quickie play at UMass, I looked at a kid that was livin’ the good life at the university level, and very raw from a technical standpoint, but super athletic. So he looked like a guy who just needed to clean up his game a little bit, but had some potential,” Ranford said.
His transition to the NHL was gradual. Occasional 20-plus hour bus trips and rodents in hotel rooms weren’t on the glamorous hockey lifestyle brochure, but such was life in the East Coast Hockey League, where Quick first cut his teeth.
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