"To clarify, that's 10 years after next year – so 11 years in total of our goaltender being better than yours."
That tweet, sent from the Los Angeles Kings Twitter account on the day the team signed Jonathan Quick to a 10-year, $58 million contract extension, has haunted the netminder for nearly a decade.
Those 11 years have not exactly gone how the Kings' social media team had hoped.
After a few seasons of mid-.910's goaltending, Quick's play plunged off a cliff in 2018. The veteran netminder saw his save percentage dip to a .888 save percentage across 46 games and his goals saved above average drop to a league-worst -29.4, seven goals worse than the next qualified player. That trend proved not to be an aberration, as Quick remained negative in GSAA and only earned a save percentage above .900 once, in 2019, when he mustered a .904.
Statistically, Quick became one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL.
That is, until this season.
Through seven games this season, Quick has found the fountain of youth. The 35-year-old has wrestled the Kings' starting reins back from young upstart Cal Petersen, exploding out of the gate with a .924 save percentage that includes a tremendous 34-save performance on Monday night that stopped the Toronto Maple Leafs' five-game win streak in its tracks.
Quick looks like all the best parts of his old self to this point. He's still as active as ever, flinging his body around the crease without abandon and sprawling out for shots at impossible angles. But it appears more calculated. His style will always be chaotic, but Quick has learned to once again control that chaos after years of letting it run wild.
He seems far more poised, too. Quick will always be keen to muck it up after the whistle whenever tested, but the tirades to officials and outward expressions of frustration that once derailed his focus during games have largely been absent this season.
Frankly, Quick looks at ease.
"He's playing with a ton of confidence," Jack Campbell said on Monday after being outduelled by his former mentor.
"I think their team is really rallying around him. You know, he's a legend. He's had an unbelievable career, he's been an unbelievable teammate to me and to everybody that he plays with."
Campbell is right. The Kings have certainly rallied around Quick as of late, with the team riding a five-game win streak at the moment of which he's been responsible for three.
Quick is back to keeping his team in games they otherwise should be overmatched.
Versus Toronto, for example, the Kings found themselves decimated in nearly every facet of play — outshot 34-29 while allowing 61.14% of the game's expected goals and 57.69% of the high-danger chances. That, normally, is a recipe for disaster. But Quick allowed just one goal on 35 shots, however, backstopping his team to a 5-1 win on the road.
It's that type of performance that inspired his organization's social media team to rub his contract extension in everyone's face all those years ago. And one that has become common once again in his 15th season.
"Quick had a big impact as he does almost every night when he plays," said Todd McLellan of his veteran netminder following Monday's win.
"You don't win in this League without having good goaltending. Rarely do you leave the rink, I don't think anybody can remember a night where you say, 'Boy we got terrible goaltending yet won the game'. That doesn't happen. The winning team often gets the best goaltending, and Quick was really good when he needed to be."
Paired with Petersen, a vintage-looking Quick gives Los Angeles the type of formidable tandem in net that is required for team success in the modern NHL. Add that to a young Kings roster bursting with talent, and a late-career surge could be in the cards.
It might not be enough to earn a third Stanley Cup ring, but Quick has the ability to make that tweet from 2012 look far less foreboding than it has in recent years.