Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Kim Dillabaugh (right)

Dillabaugh watched Kings’ goalie ‘evolve’

Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Kim Dillabaugh has worked with Jonathan Quick since 2006 and his thrilled to see him in Stanley Cup final

For pretty much every step of the way, Kim Dillabaugh has witnessed—and been part of—Jonathan Quick’s evolution into one of hockey’s top young netminders.

Now, the Kelowna Rockets’ assistant coach has the ultimate satisfaction of watching Quick and his Los Angeles Kings play for the Stanley Cup.

Dillabaugh, who oversees goaltender development for the NHL team, began working with Quick in 2006 when he was playing for the University of Massachusetts.

The two continued their association as Quick made stops in the East Coast Hockey League in Redding, then with Manchester of the American Hockey League.

In addition, Dillabaugh works each summer with Quick and other goaltenders in the system leading up to the start of the NHL team’s training camp.

Now completing his fourth full season with the Kings, the Milford, Connecticut native has established himself as one of game’s best stoppers. During the regular season, Quick posted a miniscule 1.95 goals against average and posted a league-high 10 shutouts—not to mention leading the Kings to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 19 years.

“It’s been nice to see him evolve over the years, coming out of university, working his way up through the minors and becoming a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL,” Dillabaugh said of Quick, who was drafted by the Kings in 2005. “He played 44 games in his first full year (2008-09) and hasn’t really looked back.

“He has a lot of real good natural ability and tremendous athleticism,” Dillabaugh continued. “He’s constantly working at his game and has gotten progressively better.”

While he is hesitant to take much credit for Quick’s ascension to the top of the game, there is a definite sense of satisfaction when Dillabaugh sees the 26-year-old goalie stymying big-league opposition shooters.

“You feel proud for sure,” said Dillabaugh. “You see a guy who’s put a lot of time and effort into it, and he’s worked through some challenges along the way. It’s nice to see people put time and effort in and get rewarded for it. He deserves all the credit.”

Though Dillabaugh’s work with Quick over his first three seasons in the NHL was limited, the load increased again this season when Daryl Sutter was hired as the Kings’ head coach in December.

Sutter requires a goaltending coach to be on hand on a full-time basis, so when Bill Ranford—the Kings’ main goaltending coach—isn’t available, then Dillabaugh is called in to fill the role.

Since December, Dillabaugh has spent about 10 to 12 days a month in L.A. working with Quick and Kings’ backup Jonathan Bernier.

Dillabaugh was most recently in Los Angeles May 3 to 21 working with some of club’s minor league prospects—known as the Black Aces—and the Kings’ first choice in the 2011 draft, Chicoutimi goaltender Christopher Gibson.

During his stay, the 34-year-old Duncan native saw two games of the St. Louis series, then watched the Kings eliminate the Phoenix Coyotes.

On Monday, Dillabaugh will head back to L.A. for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.

“It’s exciting for the people in the organization who have worked so hard to make this happen,” said Dillabaugh. “Since the new regime with Dean Lombardi (GM) and Ron Hextall (assistant GM) took over, there’s been some really positive things happening and it’s good to see them having success. They’re a good group of people to be around.”

Dillabaugh has worked with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets as an assistant and goaltending coach since 2003, and with the Kings as their overseer of goaltender development since the 2006-07 season.