It was announced late last week that Los Angeles Kings’ netminder Jonathan Quick, according to the team’s Twitter account, “underwent a minor surgical procedure to repair a disc fragment and an inflammatory cyst that had formed.” The operative word in said statement should be “minor”. Of course, some would suggest the operative word in the previous sentence ought to be “should”.
I’ve read the news of Quick’s surgery from multiple sources but yesterday, I found the news on TSN.ca where it was said, similar to other sources, that the reigning Conn Smythe winner will have to miss a minimum of six weeks to recuperate. In other words, should the upcoming season begin as scheduled, Quick would likely have to miss the beginning, if not all, of training camp.
I notably mentioned TSN.ca because of the reaction it got from an abundance of fans. Although I know these are fans, not experts, some of them have been through said procedure themselves. Naturally, when I read of the ramifications of said surgery, I became concerned for the well-being of Quick. Then again, of all the fans who have had the surgery, how many of them are versatile goaltenders who just led their team to a Stanley Cup crown? One of these fans said that his own surgery gave him immediate relief but experienced worse symptoms after a year. What many fans on my Facebook page mentioned (and I admit I didn’t think of this myself) was that Jonathan Quick (as well as the other Kings players) have the luxury of being treated by some of the best, most experienced doctors around. To say something like that is more common sense than a bias.
Aside from the fans which have had surgery and the scant few who said the Kings’ MVP would be fine, many doubted Quick’s future saying that he would only last four or five more years in the league. Others questioned Dean Lombardi’s motives signing his goaltender to a new contract. Why would Lombardi sign Quick to a 10-year deal knowing this? Why did Quick wait until now to have the surgery and not immediately after the season finished? As for the latter, unlike the other 29 teams, the Los Angeles Kings were looking forward to an eventful summer. That’s what you get when your team just won hockey’s ultimate prize, what so many teams, players, coaches and fans long for and never have the opportunity to win. As for the former question, I can safely say that, despite receiving such critical continent-wide attention for winning the Stanley Cup, few fans know anything about the Los Angeles Kings (and if you live outside of California, don’t tell me you see a bunch of people wearing vintage Kings hats because I’ve personally asked many of these people if they are Kings fans and they’ve all said no). So, with their limited knowledge of the team comes even more limited knowledge of their front office.
To most fans, the Los Angeles Kings are nothing more than a fly-by night team who happened to embark on an unlikely run to win their first championship. How many fans cared about the Kings, nay, were even aware Los Angeles still had a team before this season? Furthermore, if your last name’s not Crosby, Stamkos or Ovechkin, who cares? With all that said, few people know how hard Dean Lombardi and his staff worked to get this team where they are today. Few realize that when Roberto Luongo was still in Florida and the hottest commodity on the trade market at the time, he was minutes away from becoming a King until Lombardi nixed the deal when the Panthers let it be known that they wanted Anze Kopitar. This was also during a time when the Kings were desperate for a capable (let alone all-star-caliber) goaltender so it’s not as if Lombardi had much leverage – yet he played his hand as if he had enough of it to spread around multiple times. Lombardi accumulated his draft picks and used them wisely, made the quietest of moves during free-agency (i.e. Scuderi and Mitchell), plus he’s been very smart dealing with the contracts of his players. Logically, any trained lawyer would have a plethora of experience dealing with the latter and Lombardi, as he’s proven, is no exception. Yet, there are fans who suggest that Lombardi and company didn’t know what they were doing when they signed Quick to his long-term deal. I don’t get it. Actually, I do get it but I digress.
Going back on what was initially said (and countless fans on my Facebook page said it themselves) but the operative word here should be “minor” and, most likely, it is.
On TSN.ca, one such fan said that he could not recall any goaltender that lasted more than a few years following such a surgery. Of course, the fan neglected to mention any names of the previous goaltenders who had had the same surgery Quick just had. Of course, it is also very possible that these anonymous goaltenders had such a short shelf-life not because of surgical ramifications but because they just weren’t that good to begin with. The same cannot be said for Jonathan Quick, who is coming off his fourth-consecutive solid season. Considering that he carried the second-lowest scoring team on his back all season long and into the playoffs, it’s impossible to reason that Quick and the Kings simply found success on a whim.
For those of who would like to read some of the comments made by fans on TSN.ca, click here.
Like any surgery, this is a process that needs time to heal. Jonathan Quick won’t likely be back on the ice until the end of September and until then no one will know how the Conn Smythe winner will fare. Of course, using one’s common sense can be useful. From looking at his performance during the regular season and the playoffs this past year, Jonathan Quick clearly wasn’t too affected by whatever malady he was suffering from.
On the bright side, with so many fans dismissing Quick, claiming that he will just last a few more years, the Kings will be stuck with his contract and that opponents will have an easy time scoring, all the naysaying is simply more ammunition to win the Stanley Cup again next year. From personal experience, I can honestly say (regardless how irrational it seems) that I feel a sense of emptiness when there’s no one to prove wrong en route to achieving something. The Kings had enough of it during the season with their anemic goal production, when the playoffs started when they supposedly had no chance against the Canucks and beyond when their “Cinderella” run was bound to end sooner or later.
With the news of Jonathan Quick’s surgery, skepticism for the Los Angeles Kings has reached a whole new echelon. Did everyone miss the playoffs this spring? Did no one learn that Quick and the Kings are aseptic to any sort of criticism or doubt? Clearly they didn’t otherwise we wouldn’t be hearing any of this drivel.
Only time will tell to see how Jonathan Quick recovers from his surgery but if he plays just as well, if not better, than his pre-surgery form, there are going to be a lot of fans and experts who are going to look and feel very stupid. I’d suggest rounding up all these people but as Kings fans, we won’t have time as we’ll likely be too busy celebrating another Stanley Cup title.
Photo: Courtesy of Mike Segar/Reuters