LOS ANGELES — No one will be overlooking Jonathan Quick now.
An impressive charge to the Stanley Cup culminated with the Los Angeles Kings goaltender being given the Conn Smythe Trophy on Monday night after the team finished off the New Jersey Devils with a 6-1 rout.
It was no contest. Quick was the backbone of a Kings team that went on a stunning 16-4 run in these playoffs, with the goaltender only allowing three goals in a game on two occasions.
His playoff statistics were incredible: a .946 save percentage and 1.41 goals-against average to go with three shutouts. Those are among the best by a goaltender in NHL history. The Devils scored just seven times on him in the six-game championship series.
“Jonathan Quick’s been like that,” said Luc Robitaille, the Kings president of business operations. “No one knows about it, but he’s been playing this way. Look at his stats for the last three years — they’re phenomenal.”
Like many of his teammates, Quick didn’t attract much attention while starting his NHL career on the West Coast. But that started to change during a regular season where he earned a nomination for the Vezina Trophy and picked up even more steam as he rose to the occasion in the playoffs.
Even David Beckham started showing up to games at Staples Center with a “Quick” sweater.
The 26-year-old from Milford, Conn., seemed a little uncomfortable in the media spotlight, although he allowed more of his personality to come out as the final went along. A couple days before the Kings lifted the Stanley Cup, Quick talked about being a big Mike Richter fan as a kid and feeling more nervous watching the 1994 New York Rangers chase a championship than when he was doing it himself.
It was then pointed out that there are likely kids out there who feel the same way about him that he once did about Richter.
“When you put it that way, it’s pretty cool,” said Quick.
He will have a tough time avoiding the spotlight now, though he seems to think the extra media attention won’t affect his routine.
“I don’t see it changing too much,” he said. “Obviously you still go about you day the same way you always have. I think the attention the team’s going to get is great and that’s something we have been looking for in this market for so long.”
Cool is the best way to describe this customer. Quick did an excellent job of shutting down the Canucks, Blues, Coyotes and Devils during these playoffs by not showing many signs of weakness. Even after giving the puck up for a crucial goal in a Game 5 loss against New Jersey, he rebounded Monday with a 17-save performance.
“We needed him to be a great strength for us,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter.
Incredibly athletic, Quick is equal parts aggressive and poised — stopping virtually every puck he could see shot his way this spring. In the Stanley Cup final, he went up against veteran Martin Brodeur, a three-time champion and one of the greatest goaltenders of all time.
“I try to be perfect,” Brodeur said after the Kings built a 3-0 lead in the series. “But the other guy is a little more perfect than me right now.”
This year, during this run, there was absolutely no shame in that.
Quick is just the third American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy following Brian Leetch of his beloved 1994 Rangers and Boston’s Tim Thomas a year ago. He’s also the third goaltender to be named playoff MVP since the lockout.
A third-round pick in 2005, improbably the eighth goalie selected that year, the Kings could never have dreamed that Quick would be the one to take them to the promised land. But there’s no way the organization would have had the chance to celebrate its first ever championship this spring without him.
“He’s been our most consistent player all year,” said forward Mike Richards. “Really the big reason why we made the playoffs is because he was so consistent, played the same way every night.”
And he took it to another level when it mattered most.