Remember all you’ve heard or read about the ‘NHL member teams cannot have contact of any type with their players during the lockout’ stuff? Well, here’s a new wrinkle – Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was not only skating at the team’s practice facility today, but he was wearing his usual team-issued practice jersey and participating in drills with team employees (Daryl Evans, new assistant coach Davis Payne and a few members of the training staff).
How is this possible?
To stay in shape, Dustin Brown and some of Quick’s teammates have been using one of the pick-up league locker rooms and renting ice time at Toyota Sports Center for a few hundred dollars per hour. Plus, they’ve been wearing NHLPA jerseys as well.
The explanation and difference is simple enough, the league and the NHLPA have at least been able to agree on one thing - it’s for the betterment of both sides that injured players get the best care possible. Thus, if a player was injured before the lockout – which Quick was – he can use the team’s staff and facility for rehab purposes.
So, for now, Quick remains a man somewhat on his own island.
“I haven’t been skating with the players,” Quick told us after his 90-minute session on the ice earlier today. “I think that’s something I can’t do quite yet, until I’m physically cleared to play. Then, I can start skating with my teammates. Until then, it’s just me and the coaches – and working out in our gym.”
Today marked the one week anniversary of Quick’s return to the ice after off-season back surgery. That may not seem like a milestone achievement worthy of mentioning when compared to some of the other highlights he’s experienced this year, yet it’s an important step along his road to a full recovery.
“It’s like the start of any summer training program,” he began, when describing how he’s feeling at the moment. “You’re getting back in shape and getting back on the ice, you have to get your feet underneath you and then you start to work on things. Right now, I’m kinda getting past the part of getting my feet underneath me.”
Next up for Quick will be the addition of Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford.
“He’s coming to town soon and I’m sure he’s going to have a ton of things I need to work on,” Quick said. “Once I’m cleared and I’m 100% though, communication with Billy will be shut off.”
As cliche as it sounds, Quick isn’t looking too far ahead. This process isn’t about a deadline, per se. It’s more like a day-to-day situation.
“You don’t want to do anything to re-injure it, you don’t want to push it too hard. Obviously, you want to push yourself to try to get yourself in shape. At the same time, it’s a situation where you don’t know how much time you have. At the end of the day, I think it’s best to play it safe – where you’re not over doing it. You’re working hard and doing what you can to be ready for whenever the season does start, but you don’t want to push it too hard. Coming off back surgery, you don’t want to re-inure it within (a few weeks) of getting back on to the ice.”
Reflecting on what the team called a ‘minor surgical procedure’ to repair a disc fragment and an inflammatory cyst back on August 9th, Quick says he doesn’t remember being nervous as he was about to go under the knife.
“I had a lot of confidence in Dr. Watkins, he’s done it many, many times. I was very comfortable with him doing it. It’s not so much the surgery, it’s the post-op that’s in your head a little bit – as far as how long it’s going to take you to get back. As for the actual surgery itself, they do a good job of getting you there really early in the morning so you’re still asleep by the time they put you under and you don’t really have time to think.”
Anybody who’s ever had surgery knows, it’s the waking up that can be the best part. People are known to say some crazy things as they’re coming off the anesthesia. Did Quick’s wife catch him mumbling anything weird?
“I’m still sleeping in bed with her, so I didn’t say anything bad I suppose,” he said with a laugh. “I wasn’t on the couch at all. That’s a good thing!”
So, back to the rehab and where things stand.
Quick is being as cerebral in his approach to healing as he usually is to shutting down opponents attacking his net.
“Any time you start to feel a little pain come back up, you go back to your (Physical Therapist) and you have him check you out,” he said. “It’s about constantly seeing how far you can go without getting any pain. Some days you might go a little further than you should. You’re kinda walking a thin line there to see how hard you can push yourself without causing any irritation.”
For now, he’ll keep doing that with full use of the Kings training facility and various members of the team’s staff.
How long things remain that way though is still TBD.
“As soon as I get cleared – then like the rest of the guys – the doors are locked for me.”