Kevin Quick was kicked off the Michigan hockey team – and the Wolverines have moved on.
The team learned of Quick’s dismissal, for what Michigan coach Red Berenson said was “a total violation of our team trust and rules,” before last weekend’s frustrating series against Northern Michigan. Coming in the midst of a four-game winless streak, the news could have made the Wolverines even more frazzled this week with No. 1 Miami (Ohio) looming ahead.
But thanks to its depth on the blue line, Michigan’s adjustments will be minimal.
Quick played with junior alternate captain Mark Mitera on the first pairing in 14 of the freshman’s 21 games. Mitera said hearing the news of his friend and lockermate’s dismissal was “disappointing” and that it’d be tough to continue their friendship.
“(Quick) always hung out with (Mitera) after practices – they’d go back and play Halo together,” senior alternate captain Chad Kolarik said. “But he was a quiet kid, he stuck to himself. I don’t think it really affected anyone else that bad.”
Originally, Michigan coach Red Berenson rotated freshmen Scooter Vaughan, Tristin Llewellyn and Quick between two defensive spots, which kept intensity high during practices.
But after the first half of the season, Quick and Vaughan established their spots in the lineup. Quick had played in 13 straight games, with his last scratch in the first game of the College Hockey Showcase on Nov. 23.
Prior to last weekend’s series, Vaughan had played 19 games. He missed the Michigan State series two weeks ago due to illness, but before that, he was in the lineup for eight straight games.
Llewellyn had seen action in 18 games but was scratched for three of the last six. Quick’s dismissal meant he had to unexpectedly suit up for this weekend’s series.
“Our concern with Tristin was playing with a sense of urgency in our zone, because he plays with a calmness that most defensemen don’t play with,” Berenson said. “But I think he’s handling it well.”
Now that the three-freshman rotation has been eliminated, the six-man defense is set. Vaughan will likely play with Mitera on the first pairing, like he did when Quick was out of the lineup, and Llewellyn will continue to play with sophomore Chris Summers.
“Definitely, I think the other defensemen were not excited for him to leave, but excited for the opportunity that, ‘Now, I’m solidified in the lineup, I can really go out there and show them what I’ve got,’ ” Mitera said.
Without the extra depth on the blue line, previously one of Michigan’s biggest assets, Berenson said the Wolverines can play with a five-man defense if one blueliner is injured or sick.
But if two defensemen are out, Michigan will need to explore other options.
Like Michigan did with former Wolverine forward David Rohlfs, who skated 23 games on defense as a junior, Berenson could temporarily pull a forward back to the blue line. He acknowledged junior forward Danny Fardig could be an option.
Michigan technically still has seven defensemen on its roster, but sophomore Eric Elmblad has never seen game time. Berenson said he might consider playing Elmblad, a walk-on added to the team before last season, if the team is low on defense – but he would rather rely on a forward who has already had significant playing time.
“If I was guaranteed that he would play well and not hurt us or cost us a goal or a game, then he might have had some game time already,” Berenson said.
Associate head coach Mel Pearson, who is in charge of recruiting, said Quick’s departure will have no impact on next year’s recruiting class. Michigan already has two defensive recruits for next year.
And for now, Kolarik and other members of the team made it clear – they’re done worrying about the issue.
“We’ve got to concentrate on the guys who are here and who are playing for us, not playing for themselves,” Kolarik said. “The guys that left or the guys that got kicked off, we have to forget them.”