Quick named play-offs MVP
Jonathan Quick was rewarded for his brilliance between the pipes when the Los Angeles Kings netminder lifted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL play-offs most valuable player after helping his team win their first Stanley Cup.
Armed with reflexes to match his surname, the 26-year-old became the second consecutive goalie to win the award following Boston's Tim Thomas a year ago, with a series of brilliant postseason performances.
The Kings compiled a 16-4 record on their march to glory, a statistic rendered all the more remarkable considering they finished the regular season as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.
During the best-of-seven finals against the New Jersey Devils, won 4-2 by the Kings, Quick allowed just seven goals but is likely to remain a notoriously shy and reluctant star despite his new-found recognition.
"I don't see it changing too much," he said after Monday's series-clinching 6-1 romp.
"I think the attention the team's going to get is great. That's something we have been looking for in this market for so long, is to get that attention towards hockey.
"It's just an honour to be on this team. I'm glad to be a part of it."
A silver medallist with the U.S. team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Quick had been an inspiration to his team all season, providing a near impenetrable force in goal.
He led the league with a franchise-record 10 shutouts and posted the second-lowest goals-against average. Unsurprisingly, he was included on the shortlist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL's top goalie during the regular season.
Quick made a rare blunder in the fifth game when he allowed the Devils to score but said he did not let that damage his confidence.
"You make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. It's part of the game," he said.
"You can't be a hundred percent every time, make the best play every single time.
"I don't think they (his team mates) were looking for me to say anything. I didn't feel like I needed to say anything. Obviously, you just want to get out there and stop the next shot. That's all you try to do."
Raised in Connecticut, Quick grew up as a New York Rangers fan but moved to California when he was drafted by the Kings in 2005 and has been with the team ever since.
The Kings were considered long-shots to win the Stanley Cup after entering the play-offs as the lowest seeds in the Western Conference but rode a purple patch of form all the way to the title.
Los Angeles raced to a 3-0 lead in the finals series but stuttered with the finishing line in sight with two straight defeats before Monday's thrashing of the Devils sent a packed Staples Center crowd into raptures.
"You just keep reminding yourself how dangerous a team they are. The second you become relaxed, get your mind off what you're supposed to be doing, that's when they're going to take advantage of you," Quick said.
"But obviously, when we scored that fifth goal, the empty-netter, that's when you take a big, deep breath, relax a little bit, and know it's going to happen."