by Mike Ries
The NHL trade deadline came and went as teams loaded up for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. The biggest surprise it seemed was the Los Angeles Kings moving veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov and the key to the deal goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Quick was upset, his wife was upset and the Los Angeles fan base seemed quite upset. This of all the trades and movement at and before the trade deadline really rubbed me the wrong way and unfortunate circumstances did not allow me to voice my opinion until now.
Jonathan Quick at this stage of his career is not the top tier goaltender that he once was, as the Kings captured Stanley Cups in 2012 and again in 2014. The Kings after the All-Star break seemed to find their game and despite the inferior goaltending of Quick and Cal Peterson the heir apparent to the crease after Quick retired. Fast forward Peterson is in the AHL as an 0.868 save percentage is not to NHL standards. Quick and his 0.876 in 31 games proved his time as NHL goaltender were coming to an end. That left journeyman Pheonix Copley as the answer and Kings management were not comfortable with him as the only answer heading to the playoffs.
Back story set, Los Angeles needed an upgrade and in Korpislao they have a solid top tier NHL goalie. Here is what is bothersome to me. The fact that Quick was upset, that he was traded to Columbus and how he was treated by general manager Rob Blake. Sorry Mr. Quick but in your career you have made an estimated 63 million dollars. The rest of us in the real world should not have any sympathy for you and your entitled lifestyle. It was a business decision and what was best for the Los Angeles Kings as the NHL lives in a cap related world. You have your millions, your cup rings and a stellar career. You sir are not an NHL Hall of Fame goalie, a hero 10 plus years ago to the Kings faithful. But now your time as a King was up and instead of just saying thank you to the organization and the Kings fans. You decided that you would take the unprofessional and entitled stance that they, the Kings organization owed you something. They owe you nothing, it is sports, it is a business and you are not entitled to your opinion and feelings. The unfortunate thing about people this day and age, is everyone it seems is owed something.
The NHL player that plays for the love of the game is rare. There are exceptions of course as it is unfair to paint everyone with the same brush. It seems especially the top tier players are more concerned about their brand and the next endorsement deal than the Stanley Cup. Sports are a reflection of life to a point and with the age group that makes up the bulk of NHL rosters it is no wonder that the entitled moniker is fitting. This in turn is why the lack of passion and desire is missing from the game today. It still is alive in the minor pro, college and junior hockey, as players still have the desire to improve their game. Some play for the love of the game as they know an NHL career is not in their future. That passion is what is lacking in today’s NHL game, no hitting, no fighting, no aggression and this is the game we have now.
The days of Punch Imlach and ruling the team with an iron fist are long gone. But the way the players are treated now is an absolute joke. To play a game you love and make millions of dollars is a dream for most and the players that make it to this level need to appreciate that. Unfortunately in this era most do not and feel that the team and the league owe them something beyond a fat paycheck. Paraphrasing a couple of sayings to cap these thoughts …. give your balls a tug, shut your mouth and know your role