Jun 15, 2012, 8:56 PM EDT
Jim Stewart spent 20 minutes between the pipes for the Boston Bruins back in 1979-80 and that was the extent of his NHL career. However, after years in the minors, Stewart spent over two decades helping college goaltenders.
Stewart planned to leave all that behind him in 2006 to spend more time with his family, but with Jonathan Quick on the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s roster, Stewart wanted to stay for one more season.
“My wife gave me the blessing for one more year and I said, ‘You know what? Jon’s going to be a sophomore, he’s going to play a lot. We’ll certainly be better,’” Stewart told NHL.com.
He also had to simultaneously work for Massachusetts’ Department of Recreation and Conservation managing the state’s swimming pools and hockey rinks. He admitted that it was tough juggling all those things, but Quick made it a season to remember.
“[Quick] was a great skater, great competitor, but young. We taught him about watching video and practicing hard all the time. Stuff like that,” Stewart said. “His sophomore year, he put it all together and had a tremendous year.”
After the 2006-07 campaign, Stewart followed through with his plan to leave hockey behind while Quick got started with his pro career. Stewart focused on his full-time job and family, but he still made time for Quick.
“The stay-at-home defensemen are key to everything. I told Jon, ‘Take those guys out for dinner as much as you can. Those guys are going to save your bacon.’ We ended up talking about a lot of things like that,” Stewart said. “I told him, ‘If you can just dedicate yourself for about 300 days in a row here, you will be a millionaire.’ I knew he would understand that.”
Quick has gone on to become one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He led the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup victory and won the Conn Smythe trophy in the process. On Wednesday, Quick might end up winning the Vezina Trophy as well.
“[When] it was time to wrap [up my career], I could tell,” Stewart said. “You miss some of it, but there’s got to be a priority. I just wanted to finish up strong with one last push. And Quick was the goalie. A pretty good goalie to finish up with, as it turns out.”
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