Jonathan Quick aims for U.S. starting role after taste of Olympics in Vancouver
ARLINGTON, VA -- Four years ago, Jonathan Quick was the No. 3 goaltender for Team USA behind Tim Thomas and starter Ryan Miller. He didn't see any action in the 2010 Olympic Games, nor was he expected to. Coming off his rookie season in the NHL, Quick's presence in Vancouver was strictly with an eye toward the future.
Four years later, that future is now, and with a Stanley Cup victory under his belt and four seasons of strong play, Quick has found himself now fighting for the No. 1 job when Team USA heads for Sochi in February.
As a 24 year old at the Vancouver Games, Quick was still learning his craft, and getting the opportunity to spend two weeks working alongside NHL veterans in Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas was beneficial.
“I was pretty young in the league at that point in my career," Quick said at U.S. Olympic camp on Monday in Arlington, Va.
"I didn’t know many guys, especially guys around the team. It gave me an opportunity to meet a bunch of the guys and also watching [Ryan Miller] and how he prepared for games of that magnitude. It’s little things here and there that you pick up on.”
Part of the criteria that Team USA's management staff will use to evaluate players is their body of work and how they're playing through the first three months of the 2013-14 NHL season. Making a decision on three goaltenders come with the biggest pressure.
"I think goaltending is the one position that’s more so that than the body of work," said Team USA head coach Dan Bylsma. "How you’re playing and your play in the next three-and-a-half months is going to be most important for when it comes to that position and making decisions in that regard.”
No matter who the Team USA staff decide will be the three goalies they take to Sochi, it's going to be a strong bunch. Fellow players like Ryan Kesler and Keith Yandle have already identified the team's biggest strength as goaltender, with Quick and Miller joined by Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard and youngster John Gibson.
“It’s a deep, deep pool with a lot of good players who have good experience," said Bylsma. "They’ve done a good body of work. They’ve won championships; so it’s a tough decision not just for the starter, but who are going to be the three goalies on our team.”
Even Quick's rivals know he could be an asset for the U.S.
“I see [Quick] a lot because he’s in the West," said Yandle. "He’s usually shutting us out a lot, so it’s not a lot of fun playing against him, but it’s good to see him here where he could potentially be on this team."
Miller was the best player of the 2010 tournament, but his game, along with the Buffalo Sabres has slid. What was once thought of as a lock is now anyone's guess as to who will get the reigns for Sochi. That's opened the door for Quick.
He wasn't on the ice four years ago, but to Quick, there was plenty to take out of that experience and use this time around.
“We accomplished a lot," said Quick. "We weren’t expected to do much as a team going in to that tournament and the way we came together as a group and what we were able to accomplish means a lot. It’s something that we can build off."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy