He has two rings on his fingers – in one of the most unheralded and shortest paths to parading Lord Stanley in NHL history.
“Who,” the legions of NHL fans asked when Jonathan Quick was named the Los Angeles Kings starting goaltender, barely two years removed from a two-year and 53-game career at the University of Massachusetts.
“Good school with a good program and a good opportunity to play some hockey,” Quick told Bruins Daily about his alma mater in an exclusive interview last Saturday when the defending Stanley Cup champions came to TD Garden.
Take a quick – err make that brief – look at the Milford, Conn., native’s playing resume and the operative word in his ascent to NHL stardom is “opportunity.”
His UMass Minutemen languished in the lower tier of Hockey East in Quick’s first season in Amherst where he posted a 4-10-1 record in just 17 games as a freshman. Regardless, that June the Kings plucked him at No. 72 overall in the third round of that 2005 Entry Draft.
Why so high?
“I don’t know,” he offered, “somebody in the organization from LA must have liked something about my game and took a chance.
Most likely, it had something to do with his 2.98 GAA that first year, and the pedigree prep-school program his previous seasons at the prestigious Avon Old Farms in his native state.
The following season, that draft chance began to cash in when Quick went 19-12-5 with a sparkling 2.16 GAA for the Minutemen.
It got better the following two seasons after Quick exited the NCAA game for a pro career. Especially in 2007-08 when he made the jump from the ECHL Reading Royals to the AHL Manchester Monarchs to the Kings – in one season.
“It kind of worked out where around the time I was turning pro and trying to work my way up the ladder, there wasn’t in LA a solidified No. 1 goalie who had been there,” Quick said. “So, very fortunate for me to kind of step in and get probably more opportunities than I deserved at a young age.”
In 2008-09 – at just 23 – he would assume the reins for covering the most prized 24-square feet of real estate in downtown Tinsel Town.
“It’s what everybody does; it’s an act of progression,” he said with deep modesty. “You work at something you’re trying to accomplish. It’s not just on this team or in this league – it’s any job in the world.”
What Quick and the Kings progressed toward – and accomplished – in the springs of 2012 and 2014 were the pinnacles of the NHL season.
With an asterisk for 2012.
The Kings were the eighth seed in the Western Conference and became the first team to win the Stanley Cup with that profile. Last season, the sixth seed.
Quick abruptly dismisses those stats – and most others.
“Statistics don’t matter,” he said forthrightly. “People that look at those don’t watch the game. They just check the stat sheet. Those mean nothing whether supposedly good or bad. You’re just trying to win hockey games. The people that get hung up on the stats are usually fantasy owners that play the fantasy games and stuff like that.”
How does Quick summarize his 10-year years of play from a 19-year-old college kid to a seasoned NHL veteran with more Stanley Cup rings than the majority of all who have ever played the game?
“You gotta be very fortunate I believe,” he said. “You keep working at it. You look at a lot of other guys that get drafted by an organization and come in. There’s a guy that’s solidified No. 1 goalie and it’s tough to try to beat someone out that’s been there a few years.”
At 29 – and in his prime – Quick ended January with 376 regular-season NHL games, 193 wins, a .914 save percentage and a 2.30 GAA. His playoff ledger is even more impressive at 46 games with 31 wins, a .923 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA.
Not likely Jonathan Quick gets beat out between the Kings’ pipes for some years to come.
“Just trying to make yourself a little better no matter what you’re doing,” he concluded with eyes on doing another deep run for him and his Los Angles Kings come spring – with plenty of seasons to outfit a few more fingers.
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