NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - With a baseball cap pushed low over his brow and a hoodie pulled up over his head, Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick looked more like a Hollywood celebrity trying to dodge paparazzi than a seasoned netminder preparing to meet NHL media on Tuesday.
Focused on the New Jersey Devils and Game One of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday, Quick admitted that fulfilling his team’s media day obligations was not part of his rich playoff experience.
A man of few words, the soft-spoken Quick is about as forthcoming as New York Rangers’ tight-lipped coach John Tortorella, deflecting questions like opposition slapshots.
”Well I don‘t, to be honest, really enjoy this,“ mumbled Quick. ”When I think of the final I don’t think of being here in front of you guys (media).
“I think of going and playing a hockey game at the highest level. That’s all I think about.”
Playing in one of hockey’s non-traditional markets, Quick has been able to go about his business in relative anonymity, happily evading the spotlight.
Hidden behind a mask and the traditional playoff beard, the 26-year-old American’s face is familiar only to the most dedicated Kings fans.
”On the West Coast we have a little less media coverage,“ said Kings forward Justin Williams. ”It’s just the way it works.
”If Quick was on the East Coast, people would know him a little bit more.
“His demeanor is very low-key. He is not a guy that will come in and say, ‘Look at me’. It’s more about the team but I think people are starting to find out how good he is.”
Quick has made fans and his peers take notice.
He has been the best puck-stopper in the playoffs with a miniscule 1.54 goals-against average, conceding two or fewer goals in 12 of 14 post-season contests.
He had 10 shutouts during the regular season and added two more in the playoffs.
”I wouldn’t say I was stealing games,“ said Quick. ”I think it was a team effort.
”We are a great defensive club. We’ve done that well for years, so I wouldn’t look at it as stealing games.
“My job is the same as it was in October, stop the puck. That’s it.”
Unlike Martin Brodeur, his opposite number in the New Jersey net who has embraced the spotlight as he savors what could be his final playoff appearance, Quick prefers his play on the ice to do most of the talking.
A Vezina Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top netminder and a top candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, Quick has been instrumental in driving the eighth-seeded Kings into the finals for just the second time in the franchise’s 45-year history.
”He’s a really good goalie, he’s played at a high level for a few years now,“ said Brodeur. ”He got himself in a great position with a team and the system they play in. What I like about him is he’s an athlete.
“He’s a goalie who is going to make saves and not move. The puck is just not going to hit him, he’s going to go out and compete like crazy. He’s pretty spectacular to watch.”
Editing by Ian Ransom