While last night’s outcome wasn’t what they had hoped for, the defeat itself to the visiting New York Rangers wasn’t what stood out for the Los Angeles Kings.
After the Kings scored to cut the New York lead in half, 2-1, momentum seemed to be on the home team’s side until just under the five-minute mark of the third when the Rangers – shorthanded no less – dumped the puck from their own zone that took a strange bounce past Jonathan Quick and into the net. That was, for all intents and purposes, the game.
While this was from only a select number of the 18,000-plus fans at Staples Center, Jonathan Quick was mocked – the same Jonathan Quick most Kings’ fans treat like a God.
Personally, I don’t what’s more pathetic about these turncoats: that the Kings’ season is a grand total of three games old, that even the best of netminders make these types of mistakes or that during that spring of destiny no fan could possibly forget, Jonathan Quick allowed a horrible goal against Phoenix’s Derek Morris in the 2012 Western Final.
I bring up the latter because I remember how annoyed I was when Quick let in said goal – but all he did was stand on his head afterwards, ultimately leading the Kings to the Stanley Cup.
While I have seen goals of Monday night’s variety before, most of which were scored by the home team because, after all, who knows the boards of a certain rink better than the team that plays 41-plus games there per year? In that case, maybe Quick should be faulted for not knowing the Staples Center boards better. But are we really going to hold that against him? I’m certainly not going to.
This was one bad goal given up during the first week of the season. Besides, if anything, Quick should be given more leverage this season.
After last season’s auspicious start, fans and experts alike gave the Kings little-to-no margin for error as, due to the abbreviated 48-game schedule, the silver-and-black had no time to slump – yet somehow when the regular season was finished, the Kings finished three spots ahead of their playoff seeding the previous season – you know, when the Kings won it all.
While I wouldn’t dare suggest that most fans are throwing Quick under the bus, some have suggested that Quick should be traded. Traded? The same man fans celebrated for when he signed a 10-year deal in an era where fans hold the same regard for long-term contracts as banks do for Willie Sutton (Google it). But now because of one soft goal, Quick, who was treated like a God all summer, should be exiled. Something doesn’t add up.
Whoever’s old enough to remember the 1995-96 season will certainly have no difficulty recalling the events that led to Patrick Roy’s exodus out of Montreal.
On a cold November Saturday night, the Canadiens were hosting the Detroit Red Wings at the old Forum unaware of how the evening would turn out.
The visiting Red Wings (who went on to win a league-record 62 games that season) opened the scoring and before anyone knew what hit them, the Habs were down 5-1, 6-1, 7-1. Patrick Roy was on the ice for much of the Detroit onslaught getting booed by his own fans until he was finally pulled when the score was 9-1.
Shortly before being yanked, Roy made an easy save and facetiously celebrating, much like Jonathan Quick did on Monday night following his gaffe.
In all fairness, it is difficult to compare the two situations. Roy had been shellacked for nearly ten goals while Quick was simply the victim of a bad bounce. Also, Los Angeles head coach Darryl Sutter is an experienced bench boss whereas then-Montreal coach Mario Tremblay was only three weeks into his coaching career – at any level.
As enormously proud and ego-driven as he is, Patrick Roy got off the ice and immediately walked past Tremblay to tell then-team president Ronald Corey, who was sitting directly behind the bench, that he had just played his final game with the Canadiens. Of course, while we say things we don’t mean in the heat of the moment, Rejean Houle (who was hired as Montreal’s general manager at the same time Tremblay was brought in) had the unfathomable inability to let cooler heads prevail. Instead, he traded Roy to the Colorado Avalanche which led to Roy’s new team winning the Stanley Cup that season and again in 2001. The storied Canadiens who once won championships at will, had to wait another 14 years for an appearance in, wait for it, the conference final. You do the math.
Jonathan Quick has not, by any stretch of the imagination, played his final game in Los Angeles. He may not have quite the same longevity with the Kings that Roy did with the Canadiens but Monday night’s reaction to Quick’s bad bounce reminded me so much of Roy’s final game donning the red, white and blue of Les Habitants. After two Stanley Cup wins (both in years they weren’t even favoured to win) in addition to two Conn Smythe, three Vezinas, four Jennings and a skill-level that had his name uttered in the same breathe as Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante was suddenly chastised for having a bad game. While the fans who did mock Quick were by no means the majority, it unfortunately suggests that what Quick has accomplished in Los Angeles is moot. Nevermind that he emerged from a motley mix of undertalented goaltenders or that he essentially single-handedly got the Kings into the playoffs before putting up (Terry) Sawchuk-like numbers making history not only for himself but for his team en route to the Stanley Cup not to mention his rebound from back surgery but fans are willing to throw all that away for one bad goal? The mere thought of such audacity makes me sick.
Monday night’s installment of TSN’s Sportscentre wasted no time making Quick’s gaffe their nightly “Worst Play of the Day”. Sportscentre anchor Darren Dutchysen seemed to enjoy the misfortune of the 27-year-old as do many of the hockey pundits on Twitter and beyond.
I find it so interesting that when Jonathan Quick has an outstanding game or if he makes a highlight-reel save for instance, it gets passed over with the sorry excuse of “Oh, I’m in bed by 10:30 so I missed it” from fans and experts alike. But when Quick has a brain fart, these same people couldn’t be any faster jumping on the netminder when he’s down. To be honest, I am more than a little surprised than no one in Toronto has yet suggested that the Kings traded the wrong netminder. But who could blame them anyway? A 3-0-0 start in T-Dot warrants a parade.
To the fans who had the gall to mock Quick on Monday night, shame on you. To the east-coast experts have found pleasure in kicking Quick when he’s down, if you have to go bed that early, you should really start thinking of pursuing a career path – I’m sure you’d be doing more than a few people a big favour by doing so.
Personally, I’m sticking by Quick and while I’m not inclined to tell anyone what to do, anyone else who supports the Los Angeles Kings should follow suit.
Jonathan Quick has proven he’s a heck of a lot more than a prophetic name. He helped the Kings get into the playoffs in 2009-10 but after playing 72 games that season, he was deemed burnt out and would underachieve the following season. Quick proved the doubters wrong. It wasn’t the first time he did such a thing and wasn’t the last.
While I am in no way trying to put Jonathan Quick in a light where he’s above human, what he was contributed for this once-hapless franchise speaks measures of Jonathan Quick not as a performer but as a man and for anyone to have the sheer audacity to write him off because of one bad goal is as disgusting as it sounds.
The Kings are off to a less-than-stellar start but there are still 79 games left in the season. Jonathan Quick has plenty of time to move past this as do those insensitive fans from Monday night.
He may be getting the brunt of all that’s negative right now but just wait a few weeks, a few months, until next June even. Those doubters will be so sorry they ever doubted the Milford, Connecticut native that they’ll be forcing themselves to get to bed long before the Kings drop the puck just to escape everything that’s right with Jonathan Quick.