Throughout the lockout people kept saying – including here on MayorsManor – one positive to the NHL’s work stoppage was the time it afforded Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick to heal his aching back. But, don’t tell that to last season’s MVP of the playoffs.
“It put everybody out of work for a long time. There’s not many positives to draw from it,” he said.
True as that may be, it didn’t take long for the flip side of that equation to enter his thought process.
“I suppose if we had been playing the past four months, I wouldn’t have. Now, it doesn’t look like I’ll miss any time.”
Monday brought the news and it was something Kings management, players and fans had been waiting for – perhaps even more than any announcement of a new CBA. Doctors declared Quick ready to go.
But what was the journey like? The last time most people in LA saw Quick he was giving his now infamous f-bomb speech at the Kings victory rally, following their Stanley Cup victory parade through downtown.
“After the season I did a few MRIs and x-rays and all the pictures they could take,” explained Quick. “(The doctor) said we could go ahead and do the surgery right then and there. But, he also said that if I rehab it and all went well, there’s a chance that we could have avoided the surgery. I opted for that. You’d rather not have back surgery if you don’t need it.”
Soon thereafter though came a sharp turn, changing the course for all involved.
“About a month into that rehab process it got a bit worse and we just kinda cut our losses and had the surgery at that point.”
Following the operation – performed just a few days after his Day with the Cup – and some initial recovery, Quick knew he still wasn’t out of the woods yet.
“After a season (ends) you usually take two, maybe three, weeks off and then you’re back in the gym. Then, a few weeks after that you’re on the ice again. So, you’re in a big hole after not being on the ice for four months.”
Digging out of there has been a cross country journey that’s seen him train in Los Angeles, Ontario, Manchester, Bridgeport and a few other places. Yet, in typical Quick fashion, he’s not looking in his rear-view mirror. Instead, he’s focused on tomorrow and the days that follow.
“I feel I’m ready,” exclaimed Quick. “Obviously, we’re going to have to talk things over with the coaches and see how they want to play it out.”
So while he eagerly awaits the start of training camp and the 2013 season, questions remain about what type of workload he might be facing. Not only does the team need to worry about his surgically repaired back, there’s also the issue of a 48-game schedule to contend with.
“It might be a bit different this year because the games are more compact and we’re playing more frequently.”
Which leads to his understudy, Jonathan Bernier.
“I spoke with him a few times during the lockout. he was playing on a team with a college teammate of mine,” Quick shared.
Bernier appeared in just 16 games last season though and has openly asked for a trade out of LA.
“I don’t think (that) will create any distraction,” said Quick. “He’s definitely capable of being a number one goalie in this league. Obviously he has tremendous talent and he’s a great goalie. And from a team standpoint, he’s a great teammate…when he’s in the locker room with us, he’s 100% committed to the team.”
Unless GM Dean Lombardi sends him to another team (something we don’t see as likely, for reasons explained here), Bernier will begin the season as a back-up for the third straight year. But, where it goes from there largely hinges on the health of Quick.
Knowing that coach Darryl Sutter likes to play his top goalie nearly every night, is Quick ready for the challenge right out of the gate next week?
“The biggest concern is getting (out there) and playing in a game, the speed and the pace and the tempo – it’s tough to recreate that with practice.”
All of these factors are things he’s been discussing with his doctors continuously.
“I haven’t been experiencing pain in a while,” Quick began. “The biggest thing for (the doctor) was strength. When I went and met with him at the beginning of December my left leg was still a bit smaller than my right leg. So for him, his conclusion was my left leg wasn’t as strong as the right one. And that’s where I was getting all my pain. He said ‘I don’t want to see you for a month. I just want you to spend as much time in the gym as you can.’”
Being a good patient, Quick followed his orders – even if it was with a bit of caution. “Doing it smart, not going like a madman,” was how Quick described his approach to working out last month.
Now, the 26-year old netminder is back with his teammates and maybe even a little tired of talking about the entire experience.
“I’ve dealt with the frustrations, now I’m past it and looking forward to getting on the ice and playing some games!”
Back in the crease, the one place a goalie feels most comfortable.
Where nothing else seems to matter.
And where Quick plans on spending a lot of time in the months to come.
“I’m coming in with a similar outlook as I do every year. If they want me in net, I’m going want to be in net.”
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