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Milford SportsBeat: They Coached CT's Stanley Cup Champion

Jonathan Quick's former coaches in Connecticut talk about the Stanley Cup champion; now Hamden could get what Ryan Shannon gave Darien—a visit from the Stanley Cup.

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will never attain the status of Wayne Gretzky, widely considered the best and most influential person in the history of the game, but the Connecticut native can always boast that he accomplished something the Great One never did. Quick led the Los Angeles Kings on an incredible journey that culminated with the Stanley Cup trophy being hoisted in Hollywood for the first time in franchise history. Some 3,000 miles away, two of the men who coached Quick during his prep career were reveling in their former pupil's success.

"It was like Christmas Day," said Bill Verneris, head coach of where started in goal as a sophomore. "I had goosebumps and my wife had tears in her eyes. We were so happy for Jonathan. It was a great moment for him and he certainly earned it."

Quick, who transferred to after his sophomore year at Hamden High School, put his signature on one of the greatest playoff performances in NHL history. He posted three shutouts while recording a .964 save percentage, one of the best marks in post-season history. The Milford native won the Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP, joining , another graduate of Avon Old Farms, as the only players from Connecticut to win the coveted award.

"I'm very proud of Jonathan," said John Gardner, who coached Quick at Avon Old Farms. "He was the reason the Kings even got the playoffs. I don't think he played any differently in the Stanley Cup than he did in the regular season. He was absolutely tremendous. It's a proud moment for me, Avon Old Farms and Connecticut hockey."

Quick is no longer just the goalie for the Los Angeles Kings. He is a Stanley Cup champion and a playoff MVP in a city that loves and idolizes its stars. He may add the Vezina trophy, awarded to the NHL's best goalie to his sterling resume later this summer, but no matter how many awards he gets or magazine covers he appears on, his former coaches say that fame won't change the man between the pipes.

"He may get a bigger contract and make millions of dollars," said Gardner. "But that won't change the person that Quickie is. He's a humble guy who doesn't even like all the attention."

Added Verneris, "Jonathan's parents raised him the right way. He won't change at all. He'll continue to work real hard to get even better. I think this is just the beginning and Jonathan has just scratched the surface of what he can become as an NHL goalie."

Quick is being honored in Milford with his own day on June 14, but according to Verneris, he is as much of a part of Hamden as he is Milford and Avon.

"During the entire series, the announcers always talked about Johnny and Milford or Johnny and Avon Old Farms and it was frustrating for everybody in Hamden because we always felt Hamden was a big part of his life," said Verneris. "And then, when they interviewed him after they won the Stanley Cup and asked him about Hamden, we all felt so good. Hamden is a hockey town and has great tradition. It was a great moment to be recognized."

NHL tradition allows every player the opportunity to take the Stanley Cup for a short period of time during the summer. (Ryan Shannon brought it to Darien almost exactly five years ago, in June 2007.) There is little doubt that Lord Stanley will be making the rounds throughout Connecticut sometime soon.

"I know Jonathan is going to bring the Stanley Cup to Hamden," Verneris said. "It's definitely going to be a great moment for all of us here and for many throughout the state."

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