It occurred so quickly and so quietly that if you blinked you’d have missed it. And even if you pressed your ear to your television, you’d still not have heard it.
But in the moments following the Sharks remarkable series-clinching win in Los Angeles, a brief conversation took place at center ice. As the Sharks, savoring the taste of perhaps the most satisfying victory in team history, finished shaking the hands of their antagonist turned extinguished foe, goaltenders Martin Jones and Jonathan Quick exchanged a few words.
Literally, a few words.
“Good job, good luck,” Quick, the two time Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, said to Jones, his former understudy who’d completed the first series win of his NHL career as a starter.
“Good job, good luck,” said Jones right back to Quick.
And then the moment was over.
Lost in the simplicity of this subtle, but rather telling moment was this: Martin Jones may be becoming Jonathan Quick. Or at least something very similar.
“If you spend any time with Martin Jones, I think you realize that nothing rattles this guy,” Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said. “That’s (a series against his former team and mentor) as rattling a potential situation as you can have. You wouldn’t have known there was any history with here with him, let alone that he had won a Stanley Cup here. He was composed at the right time, made the saves at the right time. He was great.”
Like Quick, Jones also raised the Stanley Cup on that very same Staples Center ice in both 2012 and 2014, although only receiving a championship ring for the latter.
In 2014, Jones carried the load as the Kings No. 1 goalie through the dog days of winter, when Quick was injured, before taking a backseat when his mentor returned in the postseason; in 2012, he spent the entire season with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, before being recalled during the playoffs to sit in the press box, more to watch how Quick went about his business than anything else.
Jones was asked what he learned while serving as Quick’s understudy.
“It’s kind of expected for goaltenders,” Jones said. “I played a few years in the minors. It was good for my development, getting to play in the American League. I handled it pretty well.”
Unless you’ve spent any length of time around either man, the resemblance at this point probably isn’t very clear.
But for those who have, Jones’ demeanor, if not his ability to stop the puck, has begun to eerily resemble that of Quick. Quick, it was once said, received his surname as a nod to his way with words, which perhaps appropriately is often very quick.
Quick, the goalie, has built a reputation as being a man of few and sometimes vague words, backed up by superb goaltending.
Jones, perhaps in an unintentional nod to his mentor, is largely the same, preferring to let his play on the ice speak for itself. Even if this means that Jones is unwilling to toot his own horn or show any indication that he was ever frustrated being locked into extended minor league career by Quick, and then relegated to backup duty by him, it’s worth noting the transition in the two’s relationship.
Where in the past Quick was always the man on top, this moment was the first time in their relationship that Jones carried the bragging rights, having outplayed his mentor in their first head-to-head postseason meeting after also doing so for large portions of the regular season.
What these numbers show is that with the exception of December, by far the Sharks worst month this season as a team and simultaneously the Kings’ best, Jones pretty consistently got the better of Quick in most categories.
Subtracting that one month, Jones equaled or had a better goals-against average than Quick every month of the season; he had a superior save percentage in five of the other six months and a far better win percentage when removing both’s extreme December results that skewed their overall stats.
“Yeah, it feels good,” Jones said. “But we don’t want to stop here. We know what we’re capable of. We’ve got a long road ahead of us here.”
Deflecting attention away from himself, again choosing to focus on his team’s quest for a Stanley Cup instead of himself? Vintage Jonathan Quick moment.
Although this time these words came from the mouth of Martin Jones, who knows that regular season and first round results aside, that he’ll have to accomplish a bit more this spring before truly becoming Quick’s equal.
Although for now, it does seem like the two have become awfully alike.