weather icon Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Knights’ new goaltender to debut against Montreal Canadiens

Updated March 4, 2023 - 2:03 pm

Jonathan Quick began the drive from California to Las Vegas on Thursday to join the Golden Knights when a thought crossed his mind.

Stuck in rush-hour traffic, he knew he should’ve left earlier.

Bumpy start aside, Quick said he was “genuinely excited” to start the first transition in his 16-year NHL career. It’s a fresh start with a new team in what’s been a trying season for the 37-year-old goaltender.

The main question is what the road ahead looks like for him and the Knights.

Quick, a franchise legend in Los Angeles, was traded by the second-place Kings on Wednesday only 20 games before his contract was set to expire. With injuries affecting their crease, the first-place Knights decided Thursday to give him a chance.

It’s a fascinating shotgun marriage where the possibilities feel endless. Quick, for his part, has plenty of reasons to try to make it work after leaving the only franchise he’s ever known.

“It came as a shock when I got the phone call,” said Quick, who wil make his Knights debut Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens. “It is what it is, man. You’ve got to move on. They’re moving on, I got to move on. I’m looking forward to this group here.”

Special style

Quick is one of the most unique goalies the NHL has ever seen.

He’s aggressive, athletic and strong on his skates. He explodes laterally like few others. He combined those traits into an unorthodox style that would never be in a goaltending textbook. But for him, it worked.

Quick, in an eight-season span from 2010-18, posted a .919 save percentage and 2.21 goals-against average while finishing in the top 10 of the Vezina Trophy voting for top NHL goalie six times. He also won two Jennings Trophies for the fewest goals allowed, two Stanley Cups and one Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.

“It’s special,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “The way he moves, he’s so powerful.”

Knights defenseman Alec Martinez was with Quick for both championships in Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014. He said there are videos from that run where it appeared the laws of physics didn’t apply in front of the Kings’ net.

“I’ve never seen, and still haven’t, and that’s no disrespect to anyone else, such a consistently high level of play from a goalie,” Martinez said. “He’s making saves that no human had any business making.”

The Knights themselves have plenty of firsthand experience with Quick’s prowess.

They squared off their inaugural season in a first-round playoff series. The Knights swept in four games, but Quick made them work for it. He posted a .947 save percentage and only allowed seven goals.

“I thought we outplayed them quite a bit, but they had Quickie in net,” McNabb said. “And that was our problem. … He was hard to crack.”


The reason Quick is with the Knights is he hasn’t been the same since that series.

He has an .896 save percentage and 3.00 goals-against average the last five years. That includes an .876 mark in 31 games this season, third-worst among goaltenders with at least 10 appearances.

“He’s had a tougher year,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “He’d be the first to admit the year hasn’t gone as well as it could.”

The Knights hope their environment can help Quick succeed.

With so many familiar faces around, it shouldn’t take him long to get comfortable. In addition to ex-Kings Martinez, McNabb, right wing Michael Amadio and defenseman Ben Hutton, Knights assistant John Stevens coached in Los Angeles a long time.

Quick knows right wing Phil Kessel from stints with USA Hockey, and center Jack Eichel used to live with his brother-in-law.

The Knights also believe Quick is coming in with plenty to prove after his unceremonious exit from Los Angeles. That should give extra fire to a player who’s never needed it.

Martinez said Quick would expect himself to stop a 5-on-0. He never throws his hands up, never deems a save too impossible to make. It’s what made him so good for so many years.

It’s up to him to make the most of this latest challenge.

“It’s motivating,” Quick said. “You want to do everything. You want to win your division. You want to win playoff series. You want to win 16 playoff games. Whatever I can do to help them get there, that’s what I want to do.”

Fitting in

Quick, despite his impressive resume, isn’t being promised anything with the Knights.

The team didn’t acquire him because it was unhappy with its other goaltenders. Logan Thompson, Adin Hill and Laurent Brossoit have all performed well this season. Thompson and Brossoit just happen to be hurt.

The Knights didn’t want Hill, who has made a career-high 24 starts this season, to play every game until one of the goalies comes back. In that sense, Quick is a high-profile insurance policy.

He’s also someone who can give guidance to an inexperienced group. Thompson, Hill and Brossoit have zero postseason starts on their resume. Quick has 92.

“He’s a great guy and a great goalie,” said Hill, who grabbed breakfast with Quick on Friday morning at City National Arena. “I’m happy to be sharing a net with him.”

What happens when Thompson or Brossoit return remains to be seen. Brossoit is considered day-to-day with his lower-body injury. Thompson is week-to-week with a lower-body injury of his own, but he’s expected to be available in the regular season.

“(Quick is) going to get an opportunity here and then when everyone’s healthy, we’ve got a decision to make,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “There’s no guarantees from there.”

It’s Quick’s job to take advantage of the chances he’s given. The Knights’ strong team defense shouldn’t force him to make too many difficult saves. But the Kings team he struggled with this season wasn’t porous defensively, either.

“At the end of the day, it’s business, right?” Cassidy said. “Can you get it done? Can you outplay the other guy? That’s a little bit of the messaging, and I think he understands that. He just lived it in LA. He knows what’s in front of him.”

Path forward

Quick’s current setup indicates this transition is a work in progress.

He still has his Kings mask and pads to go with his Knights jersey. It’s going to take some time to get his equipment sorted. And for his new teammates to get used to seeing him wear a different logo.

“It was definitely weird,” McNabb said, laughing.

The Knights hope the rest of his adjustment comes easier.

It’s unclear what kind of value Quick can still provide a team at this stage of his career. Or what his role will be by the end of the regular season. There are so many paths this partnership could take.

The one thing the Knights know is Quick has played important late-season games. He’s shown he can win them. It’s just a matter of going out and proving he still can.

“There’ll be different reads to make, but at the end of the day it’s going to be five guys in front of me and five guys on their team trying to score,” Quick said. “You stop the puck (and) try to win games.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest VGK news. Like our Golden Edge page