For the first time in a very long time, the Los Angeles Kings took to the ice without Jonathan Quick as a part of the organization.
It was the first practice after the trade on Wednesday that sent Quick to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with two picks for Joonas Korpisalo and Vladislav Gavrikov.
Players were clearly devastated by the move. You could see in their faces that it was still processing. Life after Quick.
But there was also a feeling of excitement. Everyone understands that Korpisalo and Gavrikov improve the team. And that this team is in a good place to contend now.
It's a mixed bag of emotions and something the Kings will have to work out quickly.
But no one seems worried about it internally.
Todd McLellan addressed how the team will work through losing such a big piece of the locker room.
“They want to win, that’s what we’re all here for,” McLellan said. “Those words can flow out of my mouth and that’s not to diminish Quickie, but you asked me the question and the players want to win. It was three years ago, when we finished the 56-game season in Colorado – look at the lineup then and look at the lineup now. Players were knocking on the door saying we want to win, let’s make this team better and the coaching staff was doing it, the management was doing it. If you want to win, you’re working towards it and you’ve got to overcome a lot of stuff.”
McLellan didn't shy away from the reality that losing Quick is difficult on the group though.
“A core guy left and it’s not an easy day, especially for those two, who were teammates and went on a championship run more than once with Quickie,” said McLellan. “To expect them to come in here and jump up and down, be full of smiles, would not be a very good expectation on our behalf, but we also have to move on. We felt that we needed to address a certain area of the game, the organization did, and unfortunately Quickie was a part of that decision.”
And those two teammates who went on a championship run addressed losing Quick.
"The last two days it's (the trade) affected us a lot," said Drew Doughty. "It was really sad and unexpected and it sucks seeing one of your best friends of your life leave. Just so many emotions. It sucked, that's the bottom line. I never wanted to see Quickie go. I expected to play with him the rest of my career. But the good thing about it is, we're so close with Quickie, we're always going to stay in touch, we're always going to see each other, our families are close. So, again, it sucks. I don't love that he's gone at all, but it's hockey, it's business. Sometimes things like that are going to happen that you aren't going to like."
"Obviously, it's a very hard day and just like Drew said, it was unexpected and sad and it sucks," added Anze Kopitar. "It's something that you don't think can happen at any time. Thinking that Quickie was going to be a Kings for life and that we were going to play with him for the rest of our careers too. Yeah, we got to spend some time with him so that was nice. Like Drew said, it's a brotherhood that's never going to go away and we'll keep in touch. But, it's interesting just to not have him here. It is what it is, the bottom line is, we've got to deal with it and look to the road ahead and wish him the best of luck on his journey.
Like McLellan though, there is plenty of excitement about the team improving.
"You love seeing that part (improving)," said Doughty. "We've got a really good team here and we're playing for the division title right now and we think we have a good chance. There's no doubt that he (Rob Blake) added some good pieces for us, so from that standpoint, we're really happy with that."
The two newcomers are excited too.
"I'm so excited, so excited to be here, so excited to play right away, it won't take long," said Gavrikov.
The chance to compete for and in the playoffs is also exciting for Gavrikov and Korpisalo.
"It's awesome, every single game matters so much," said Korpisalo. "Huge games, every single one from now on, yeah just really excited to get in there and help the team."
The sting of losing Quick won't go away soon, but the excitement of improving the team and having the potential to win should solve any issues.