After spending his day with the Stanley Cup, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick went under the knife for a surgery on his back.
According to a report by LAkingsinsider.com:
The Kings announced that Jonathan Quick underwent a “minor surgical procedure” today to repair a disc fragment and an inflammatory cyst that had formed in his back. The team said that Quick will begin rehab in approximately one week and a full recovery is expected, with the recovery time a minimum of six weeks.
Quick should be ready for the start of the season, but why wait so long to have the surgery?
The same report quoted Kings goalie coach Ron Hextall revealing why the Conn Smythe-winning goaltender took so long to have the procedure. '"Hextall said that the recovery, through therapy, 'wasn't coming along quite like we hoped, so the next step was to go this route.'''
Back surgery never sounds good—especially for a goaltender. It is even more troublesome that the therapy Quick was doing was not enough to repair the damage.
Should Kings fans be worried that their franchise goaltender will be out an extended period of time, or maybe see his play diminish permanently?
While the latter is not likely to happen, Quick missing time may be within the realm of possibilities. The Kings open their preseason against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sept. 24.
If Quick needs more than the projected six weeks of recovery time, which he probably will, he would miss the majority of training camp and preseason. He would also, most likely, be on the injury report for the Kings' opener on Oct. 12.
Pushing a goalie into action with a back injury before he is ready is the last possible thing the Kings should do.
A Similar Situation
He (Meszaros) had surgery on March 21 to remove disc fragments from his lower back, with a projected recovery time of 6-8 weeks. He resumed practice late in April, and joined the Flyers for their final playoff game against the Devils on May 8. That's a recovery time of almost seven weeks. Since the Flyers were knocked out of the playoffs, it's difficult to tell if Meszaros was truly 100 percent.
Every person is different, and on top of that, Meszaros and Quick play different positions.
This is simply just an example of an NHL player who went through a similar procedure.
Quick is a long-term investment for the Kings. This offseason the team signed Quick to a 10-year, $58 million deal (h/t Los Angeles Times). They cannot risk bringing him back and further aggravating the injury.
Who Would Take Over?
The situation becomes even more complicated when you take into consideration that backup Jonathan Bernier has been one of the hottest names on the NHL trade market.
While it seemed previously that Bernier would be traded before the season started, that is certainly being called into question now. No other prospects in the Kings system have developed enough to be able to take over between the pipes for Quick.
It would be reckless to trade Bernier now.
However, Cristobal Huet, who last saw action with the Chicago Blackhawks two years ago, has talked with the Kings about taking over Bernier's role as Quick's backup.
Kevin Woodley, a reporter for USA Today and Hockey News tweeted the following earlier this month:
Despite Bernier being disgruntled in his No. 2 goalie role, the Kings are unlikely to trade him unless they get the right deal.
If they do end up signing Huet, expect it to be a sign that Bernier is on his way out.
Huet is not the same caliber goaltender as Bernier, but he would be more competent than any other goaltender the Kings currently have in their system to hold down the pipes until Quick is 100 percent.
What may provide some unfortunate solace for Kings fans is that all signs are pointing to the NHL season not starting on time due to a lockout. This would give Quick all the time he needs to recover properly, without the pressure of having to watch his team play from the press box.
A lockout, however, is the last thing hockey fans want to see.