Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick is all about winning

ByJulie Robenhymer ESPN logo
Thursday, September 15, 2016

WASHINGTON -- When you ask Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, a two-time Olympian with a silver medal, two Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe Trophy, what else he'd like to achieve in his career, his answer is simple: "I just want to win."

Dean Lombardi, general manager of the Kings and for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey, has witnessed that focus since the first time he saw Quick play at the University of Massachusetts.

"When players say they're not interested in their stats, you never really think they're telling the truth, but with this guy it's true," Lombardi said. "It's what he's been about his entire career. It's just the way he's wired."

The next mission for Quick, 30, is to help the U.S. win the World Cup. On Wednesday, the Milford, Connecticut, native was named Team USA's starting goalie over Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils.

Winning came early for Quick. He won a national championship as a youth hockey player and two New England Prep School championships while at Avon Old Farms. Still, he didn't initially consider a career as a hockey player.

"At that age, you're playing a bunch of different sports throughout the year and just having fun," he said. "I mean, whenever I played baseball, I thought I could play for the Yankees. You never think it's actually going to happen. So, it was just fun and you enjoy playing it and you want to be good at it.

"Obviously, as I got older I recognized that I was a little bit better at hockey than the other sports and decided to focus on that."

The winning continued at UMass. In 2007, he led the Minutemen to their first trip to the NCAA tournament, where they lost in the regional final, coincidentally, to Bishop and the Maine Black Bears. After that loss, Quick set his sights on the NHL. The Kings had drafted him in the third round in 2005, but they didn't just hand him a roster spot.

"He was a really talented kid, a really competitive kid, and he got by on his athletic ability and he wasn't really used to working as hard off the ice as he did on the ice," Lombardi said. "He had to start his professional career in the East Coast [Hockey] League because of his work ethic, and it doesn't seem right to say that because he is a very hard worker; he just didn't know he had to do it or even how to do it because up to that point he really didn't have to. He was that good."

Quick understood what he had to do.

"I've always been a hard worker," he said. "My father made sure of that. If he was going to drive me to all these games, I was going to work. But this league is on a whole other level. You look at the best players and the preparation and everything that goes into it and, if you want to be a part of that group, you have to do the same."

It didn't take long for his work ethic off the ice to match his work ethic on it. In December 2007, only two months after starting his pro career with the Reading Royals in the ECHL, he played in his first NHL game. He started the 2008-09 season in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs, but two months in he again found himself in Los Angeles, this time for good.

While Quick's career numbers as an NHL goalie speak well enough for him -- 2.27 GAA, .916 save percentage and 42 shutouts -- Lombardi says it's what can't be measured that sets Quick apart.

"We've become enamored with stats, but there's no stat for rising to the occasion and no stat for timely saves," Lombardi said. "It's not just a matter of how many he stops, but when he stops them, too. When the game is on the line, he sets the tempo probably better than anybody."

For Quick, despite the high level and high stakes, hockey can still be a game that you play with your friends.

"I enjoy coming to the rink every day and being around the guys," he said. "In that way, I'm very lucky. We have a great group in L.A. to go to work with every day and here as well with Team USA. Who wouldn't want to get to do this every day? Whatever I can do to help the team win, whatever your role is, do it as well as you can and be a good teammate. That's what I try to do every day. It's that simple."

As Team USA heads into its first World Cup game against Team Europe on Saturday, Lombardi says he expects to see the same desire to win that he first saw in Quick a decade ago.

"I always felt he was one of those guys that was going to get there eventually, it was just a question of when, and I knew it since the first day I met him," Lombardi said. "I'm not surprised at all by his evolution, and what gets me excited is that I don't think we've seen the best he has to offer. He's got a lot more to give, and I just want him to keep going."

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