EL SEGUNDO — The Kings’ acquisition of two goalies in the offseason was no subtle acknowledgement of Jonathan Quick’s growing health risks.
The foundation of the defense that led the franchise to a pair of Stanley Cups this decade suffered his worst injury to date last season, prompting the Kings to find short- and long-term replacements in goal.
Perhaps more importantly, the Kings are taking any and every measure to keep from using their newfound depth behind Quick, 31, who missed 59 games last season with a groin injury suffered in the first period of the season opener.
“We have more resources now to monitor fatigue and where he’s at physiologically,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “With the injuries that he’s had, it’s something that we’re going to be constantly following up with maintenance programs and recovery plans to make sure he’s as healthy as he can be.”
Quick missed 24 games during the 2013-14 season with a groin injury. In addition, a back injury in 2012 and a wrist ailment in 2014 both required surgery after the season.
The history of injuries didn’t stop Quick from leading NHL goalies in minutes played in 2015-16.
Lowering his workload in any significant way doesn’t sound like something Quick or Stevens are interested in.
“Jon is capable,” Stevens said, “of handling a big workload.”
Though the goaltender did acknowledge there have been philosophical changes around the league prioritizing rest.
“It felt like the mindset around the league was a little different (before),” he said. “Obviously you play for different coaches who have different philosophies on that, but at the end of the day, when you get your days of practice you try to make the most of it. And you get as much work in as possible and work hard and get your days to rest. You take advantage of that and make sure your body’s healthy for the next day.”
With all due respect to Darcy Kuemper, who is the favorite to emerge from training camp as Quick’s backup, there is a precipitous drop-off from the 2016 Vezina Trophy finalist to the career backup for the Minnesota Wild.
Quick’s health might be a concern, but slippage in his level of play is not. The depth behind him was built strictly due to injury concerns.
The Kings signed Kuemper in the offseason to compete for the backup job with Jack Campbell, a trade acquisition the previous offseason. Former Notre Dame standout Cal Petersen, 22, was signed in July and will play with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario, the beginning of a long-term plan for him to perhaps eventually replace Quick.
“You put a kid in that role in the organization where you’ve got a guy in your system who’s going to play and might need some time but certainly has some big upside,” Stevens said. “And then you’ve got two guys in between where Campbell came a long way last year and Kuemper’s got experience in the league. … Much different situation than last year.”
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