It's only natural that when a team wins a Stanley Cup and a player wins a Conn Smythe that their name starts floating around in discussion of "Greatest of all time."
It's a tough conversation. Of the 40-year history of a franchise, how do you compare to the grandest and greatest? Well, even though in the greater scheme of things it was just one good season, Jonathan Quick is making a case, and he's doing it at age 26.
Maybe it has a little bit to do with just how limited the success has been in Los Angeles in terms of accolades. Perhaps it has to do with the very few truly great goaltenders the franchise has had. Either way there is one certainty; Jonathan Quick IS slowly creeping his way up the rankings.
By the numbers
First thing's first. When you're going to talk greatest of all time it has to start with the numbers. Yes maybe it's tough to talk numbers when comparing goaltenders of different eras, eras when defense, pads, and a whole mélange of things were significantly different. However, it has to start there and grow.
When you look at Jonathan Quick in terms of all-time franchise statistics so far, it's impressive. Granted, these numbers are over four seasons. Quick has a lot of games in front of him, a lot of bad games, and a lot of great games. However, if these numbers hold suit he can most certainly consider himself the greatest goaltender L.A. has ever seen.
Quick has played 249 games for the Kings, which ranks third all time behind early 90's hero Kelly Hrudey, with 360, and the legendary Rogie Vachon, with 389 games throughout the 70's. As you can see, Quick has a couple more seasons to go to surpass his superiors.
Statistically, though, Quick is sitting amongst the top of all Kings goaltenders with a career .916 save percentage and a 2.30 goals against average. Again, he's played about 100 less games than both Hrudey and Vachon, but his numbers are quite impressive.
The funny thing about Vachon is that when he was tending back in the 70's no one actually kept statistics of shots and saves on a consistent basis, so no one will really ever know statistically how good he really was.
In terms of shutouts, Quick ranks second all time with 24, behind Vachon who has 36, and his 131 wins rank him third all time behind Hrudey with 145, and Vachon with 171.
In terms of single-season performances, Quick in 2011-12 broke two records set by Vachon by achieving 10 shutouts in a single season, and finishing the year with an all-time low of 1.95 goals against average.
So statistically when you look at Quick, you would have to say he's right up there with the best of them among Kings greats.
The great Rogie Vachon was a champion, but never with the Kings. Kelly Hrudey, although he played with the heart of a champion, was never able to hoist a cup with the team either. As we saw in June, Jonathan Quick was the first goalie in franchise history to raise not only the Stanley Cup over his head, but the Conn Smythe as well.
If you want to look at the goalies, specifically in their Kings career, although Vachon has three All-Star selections to Quick's one, the Connecticut native trumps any accolade by winning two of the most coveted prizes in the NHL.
It's tough to argue that Quick hasn't achieved the most as a goaltender in Kings history. After all, no other goalie has ever raised a cup and banner in the building. As a whole, though, you can't ignore the three cups of Vachon, as well as his Vezina win in 1968 with the Canadiens.
However, if we're looking at just the era of goaltending for the Kings, the point is still made. Quick has the loot that earns him a top spot among the greats.
Time will tell
It's cliché in a way to say, "Time will tell" if Jonathan Quick really is the greatest goaltender in Kings history, but it's the honest truth. Vachon has the legacy, the numbers, and the presence as a Kings legend that Quick hasn't yet met or surpassed.
That being said, we are talking about a 26-year-old guy who has played just four seasons of NHL hockey. Without question one could say that Quick is well on his way to cementing himself as a legend in Kings history if he hasn't already. He ranks behind Vachon in all-time greats, but he's an incredibly close second and is quickly gaining ground.
Quick has the crowning achievement already, if anything else he'll always be remember for that. Hockey is a fickle thing though. Knock on wood Quick might have a couple down seasons and find himself struggling to remain relevant. He could also have another magical year and champion another Kings team. Perhaps he wins a Vezina like Vachon before him, except he does it in Silver and Black.
The book of Jonathan Quick is much shorter than that of Rogie Vachon. It's already as scintillating, fantastic, and impressive though.
The greatest thing of all might be that the book of Vachon is already a completed one in the NHL archive, and Jonathan Quick is on page 100 of what could be a very long and storied career.
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