AUDIO: Includes audio interview with Jonathan Quick and Rogie Vachon.
LOS ANGELES — In sports, breaking an individual record is often very rewarding and fulfilling for the player who sets the new record. But it is even more special when the player whose record was broken is present to share the moment. That was exactly the case on March 22, when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Florida Panthers, 4-0, in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,118 fans during a matinee affair at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick earned his fifth shutout of the season, and the 30th of his National Hockey League career. Quick’s 172nd career regular season victory catapulted him ahead of former Kings superstar goaltender Rogie Vachon as the team’s all-time leader in career regular season wins.
Vachon was at the game to share in the moment and to congratulate Quick.
“It’s wonderful,” said Vachon, who played 16 seasons in the NHL, earning 355 regular season wins, 171 with the Kings. “I wish I would have set the bar a little higher for him. But that’s fine. It’s well-deserved, and he’s playing great. He’s going to set some incredible records before his career is over.”
Vachon joined Quick in the dressing room after the game.
“We had our little team thing [after the game], and then, Rogie came walking in shortly thereafter,” said Quick. “It was great. Rogie’s given me a lot of support over the years and we’ve hung out a bit, so it’s great to see him here and continuing to show his support.”
“We’ve done a few interviews together in the past, and he’s been to many games,” added Quick. “It’s great to have him around from time to time and hear him tell old stories. The support means a lot.”
Although it is his name that will go into the Kings’ record books, Quick was quick (pardon the pun) to credit his teammates.
“I think the biggest thing is, when you talk about wins, it’s the twenty guys it takes to win a game,” he emphasized. “The goalie is always kind of nominated to receive most of the celebration, as far as wins and shutouts, but it’s a group effort. It means a lot that I’m able to celebrate it with the guys in the locker room, too.”
Vachon’s 171 wins with the Kings came when there was no overtime or shootouts to decide regular season games, giving Quick a much easier path to the team’s record books, something he has readily acknowledged. In fact, 47 of his wins came after overtime or a shootout. As such, if measured by the standards as they were when Vachon played, Quick would still be well behind.
Despite that, Vachon marveled at Quick’s play—he is one of Quick’s biggest fans.
“Unfortunately, I only played like six-and-a-half years here, but he’s going to play maybe 15-20 years here, the way he’s going,” said Vachon. “He’s going to set some records that, I think, no other goalies in the league, coming later, will ever touch.”
Like most people who watched the game, Vachon raved about the highlight-reel save Quick made at the 3:04 mark of the second period, when he moved from the left goal post to the right, reaching out to make a spectacular glove save, robbing Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann, who had a gaping right side of the net to shoot at.
“I’ve always liked his ability to move from one side to the other,” said Vachon. “It’s absolutely phenomenal. I’ve never seen that before. The save that he made today in the second period, coming from one side and going to the other side to grab it, very rarely do you see that in the league, even now.”
“Just like the other night, because it happens so quickly, you’re just trying to get a body part in front of it,” said Quick. “I got lucky there, and was able to keep it off the board.”
Quick noted that especially at this time of year, there is little time to celebrate his achievement.
“This is very special,” he said. “But it’s short-lived enjoyment because we fly to Philly this afternoon and play a game in two days, so your focus moves on pretty quickly to that next game, especially now, at this time of year, where everyone is trying to jump positions, the playoff push, things like that. It’s a short-lived enjoyment because you have to get ready for the next game in a hurry.”
Quick was asked if he remembered his first win, an 8-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center on
December 7, 2007.
“It was a blowout,” he noted. “I think we beat Buffalo like 8-2. I didn’t see too much work, either. It was a good first game to get in there and get your feet wet, and I got a lot of support.”
“That was seven years ago,” he added. “I had been called up because of an injury, and I think it might have been J.S. Aubin who was the guy that was healthy. So he played a couple in a row and they gave me the second and didn’t tell me until the morning of.”
At that point, Vachon chimed in with something for the media.
“Please don’t ask me about my first win,” he pleaded. “I have no clue. It’s been like fifty years, I think.”
But then, yours truly reminded Vachon that he won his NHL debut while he was with the Montreal Canadiens, despite receiving a rather rude welcome on the very first shot he faced.
“My first game ever—I stopped Gordie Howe on a breakaway,” he said. “It kept me in the league for 15 years.”
Vachon then pointed to Quick and said, “He doesn’t even know who Gordie Howe is.”
Quick indicated that he has watched video clips of Vachon when he played for the Kings.
“I’ve seen clips, there are a lot of them, so I’ve seen those,” he noted. “[The game has changed] tremendously. I think there is a big emphasis on team defense. Before, it used to be the goalie had to make the saves and then five guys might try to score. They were relied on a lot more than the goalies nowadays.”
“[Today], you’re more of a six-man unit in your own end, so you’re all working together,” he added. “Obviously, like [former Kings left wing and current President/Business Operations Luc Robitaille], was saying earlier, [Vachon is] not the biggest guy, but he was able to find the pucks and compete for saves.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Jonathan Quick and Rogie Vachon (due to a technical issue, a short passage of one of Vachon’s responses is difficult to hear; 8:18)
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