He entered the Sochi Games with very little fanfare, something that not necessarily frustrates but boggles fans of the Los Angeles Kings. For everything he has accomplished with the Kings over the last few years, Jonathan Quick had yet to perform on the Olympic stage. While he was part of the American team that won silver in 2010, he was the third-string goaltender which meant he spent the duration of the tournament in the press box. So, 2014 was, for all intents and purposes, Mr. Quick's starting point.
While some were expecting Ryan Miller to continue his run from Vancouver as the team's starting goaltender, US head coach Dan Bylsma elected to go with Quick - and he would not regret that decision.
While he had plenty of offensive support in the preliminary opener against Slovakia, Quick proved to be no less reliable than usual as he shut down as a country coming off its best-ever finish in men's hockey four years earlier. From the Hossa brothers to the Zdeno Chara and his deadly slapshot, Quick kept the Slovakians at bay while the American forwards seemed to light the lamp on request.
But for those waiting for Quick to steal the show, they didn't have to wait long as just two days later, the 28-year-old shut down the host Russians for much of the game. While Pavel Datsyuk was able to beat him twice, Quick left the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin, Radulov and Kovalchuk scratching their heads. Furthermore, Quick opened the door for the hometown media to become extra harsh on the aforementioned, especially Ovechkin and Malkin. The game went to a shootout and while Kovalchuk was able to solve Quick, No. 32 stoned him at the most opportune time paving the way for TJ Oshie to win the game, scoring on Russian netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
But while the Americans won their tilt with Russia, many have argued that the game should not have even gone past regulation. Said argument by a go-ahead goal scored late by the Russians that was called back as the net was ever-so-slightly off the moorings. Jonathan, like his over-aggressive style indicates, went a little far out of his net to play the puck and when he had to get back into position, he ran into his post which caused the net to come off.
It is notable to mention, by the way, that had the moorings been as thick as they are in the NHL, the net likely would not have come off and Russia's goal would have likely stood. Then again, maybe the Russians wouldn't have scored. But Quick's NHL teammate and current member of Team Russia, Slava Voynov, indicated that it was simply No. 32's style to be tat aggressively. Whether that was implied to call Quick a cheater or not is unknown, although many wanted to believe the former, yours truly included. But since then, many of also called out Quick for someone who had no issue compromising the outcome of a game, assuming they didn't have the fortitude to flat-out call him a cheater. Nevertheless, Team USA won a thrilling game and the next day, Quick was given the day off in favour of Ryan Miller as the Americans routed the Slovenians by a 5-1 score.
After the rest, Quick was back in goal in the quarter-final where his solid play led to a 5-2 American victory over the Czech Republic. Then came Friday, the long-awaited gold medal rematch from four years earlier. The offensively-potent Team USA against defensively-minded Team Canada.
With all due respect to the Los Angeles Kings, this semi-final must have made Quick feel as if he were donning the silver-and-black on the other side of the planet.
In the gold medal rematch, Jonathan Quick was outstanding, stopping 36 saves. Unfortunately, the only goal he allowed (a tip-in by Jamie Benn) turned out to be the game's only goal. Quick did everything he could to not only win the game but at the very least, send the much-anticipated rematch into overtime. It didn't work out that way. Like with the Kings on most nights, Quick had to deal with an absent offense in front of him while he held the fort, keeping the opposition from scoring. But Friday's game was more surprising considering Team USA had scored 20 times in their previous four games entering the semi-final. Nevertheless, despite his best efforts, Jonathan Quick could not guide the US to the gold-medal game - and that is of no fault to the 28-year-old. But with the loss, the Americans did still play for the bronze.
It was during the bronze game, however, that nearly all Los Angeles Kings fans felt their most frustrated. While all Americans fans could not comprehend the sudden dry spell in offense from their team, fans of the Kings were miffed when their goaltender, putting his best foot forward in an otherwise unfortunate situation, was hung out to dry, especially in the third when the Finns scored three times, padding their lead to 5-0. The time on the clock was akin to the clock in a classroom, moving glacially slow. Mercifully, the game ended and while Team USA finished without a medal, Quick's duties for Team USA in 2014 had ended.
Jonathan Quick's situation could be justifiably compared to being the youngest child in the family. Despite everything that he's accomplished, which includes the countless times he's proved the skeptics wrong, the outsiders still find (ill-founded) faults in Quick's game. Furthermore, it's never been so much about what Quick has done wrong but he could potentially do wrong, which makes it so maddening for those who know first-hand just how brilliant Jonathan Quick is as goaltender. TSN's Jamie McLennan (who seems to think being a mediocre NHL netminder makes him an expert) suggested at the beginning of this tournament that Jonathan Quick needed to change his over-aggressively style to adjust to the bigger ice surface. Quick didn't and as a result, he's played like, well, Jonathan Quick. McLennan, among others, was also hard on the Los Angeles netminder after he struggled early during the lockout-shortened 2013 season. His struggles combined with coming off back surgery, gave skeptics plenty of ammunition to not only question his season but his career.
He may not be putting up the same numbers as he did during the magical 2011-12 campaign but Jonathan Quick is not far off, remaining a tour-de-force between the pipes for the Kings.
After playing 72 regular-season games in 2009-10 and then falling in the opening-round of the playoffs to Vancouver, Jonathan Quick's greatness was behind him according to the skeptics. It wasn't. There was no way he could lead the second-worst offense into the playoffs. After all, no netminder had ever done that before. But Jonathan Quick did do that. The Kings, though, were going to get bounced from the playoffs by the regular-season best Vancouver Canucks. Again, Jonathan Quick, with some help from his offense, denied that from happening. Coming back from back surgery- okay, when can I stop? This is getting tiring.
Bottom line: Jonathan Quick has proven doubters wrong like it's a bodily function.
What's better is Jonathan Quick's demeanor. Fans could not meet someone with a more laid back, carefree persona, despite the immense pressure he must feel game-in and game-out being a professional goaltender, regardless how much (or how little) offensive support he receives.
Even better, if author Tucker Max tuned in to a few of Jonathan Quick's games, he would see his "A**holes Finish First" belief get thrown right out the window and relentlessly stomped and run over by passing pedestrians and motorists respectively.
I may be Canadian but seeing Jonathan Quick lead his country to the gold-medal game was certainly something I was looking forward to seeing, especially with the prospect of facing Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who many claim is the game's best goaltender and not Jonathan Quick. To those who believe such a thing, looks only take you so far so drop the man-crush - it's weird.
Despite not finishing without a medal, Jonathan Quick can look back on these Olympics with an immense amount of pride. I know all Los Angeles Kings fans feel the same way.
Portrait of a man named Quick: Let's start the bidding.