As most of you know Goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a groin injury late in the first period of the Kings game against the Sharks last Wednesday. Initially GM Dean Lombardi was quoted as saying that Quick would be out for a while. In the ensuring days we heard several ambiguous follow up reports as to the extent of the injury, and Quick was placed on a week to week status. Then late last week Coach Sutter announced that after Quick's MRI the injury was deemed to be severe and related to the same groin injury he suffered in 2013, and would likely require surgery. Sutter provided an estimated 3-4 month time frame before we could expect to see Quick return to the ice.
Today however the Kings organization announced that Jonathan Quick had opted to undergo a non-surgical procedure yesterday. There has as yet been no clarification or explanation as to how extensive the injury is or what non-surgical treatment Qick received or is receiving during his recovery. That being said, especially with his history of previous groin injury, I am concerned that Quick and or the Kings organization are trying to rush his return to play. While undoubtedly the Kings are suffering a tremendous handicap not having Quick's leadership and goaltending skills present in the early games of the season, his overall health and long term fitness to play should be of higher concern. If he rushes back before he is ready or tries to shortcut the treatment he could end up either right back out on injury again, or worst case scenario it is possible that with further damage it could even end his career. At this time Lombardi is still holding firm to his assessment that Quick is expected to be out for three months, and the organization has not put him on long term injured reserve. This not only implies that Quick is expected to return to play within the three months being quoted, but that the Kings are counting on this hypothetical timeline being a virtual guarantee. By not putting him out on long term injured reserve they will not be able to free up any of Quick's 5.8 million dollar annual salary. With the team already being so close to salary cap this means that they will not even be able to attempt to replace Quick or Zatkoff and Budaj with a more experienced front line goaltender even if they could find a suitable player.
This lack of an experienced first line goalie has been one of the key contributors to the Kings 0-3-0 record so far this season. Though Zatkoff and Budaj are certainly not entirely to blame for the losses thus far, the Kings as a team have grown dependent on the elite skills of Jonathan Quick in goal. It will definitely take time for the defensive lines to change from the accustomed style of play that having Quick's skill set in goal has allowed them to develop. They will need to provide more support in front of the net for either Zatkoff of Budaj to be as successful in reducing scoring chances and allowing for the team to start putting some games in the win column. Unfortunately time is not on the Kings side as many of the teams in the Pacific Division have started the season strong. It will be a long climb form the basement of the division back into playoff position, and the longer that Quick has to be out without the team taking any measures to reinforce the goalie position with a player more accustomed to their style of play and with more experience as a first line goaltender, the less likely it is that the Kings will find themselves in playoff contention this season. That is of course barring the possibility of at least two or more other teams in the division having catastrophic injuries or otherwise tanking their season, which no one wants to hope for. I still believe even having said all of this that overall in the long run the Kings would be better off to make sure that Jonathan Quick takes all the time he needs to get this injury properly treated and fully recover, rather than risk losing him into next season as well or even permanently.