Meech sits while Quincey blossoms
Such are the twists and turns of life as a professional athlete.
After Meech, 24, beat out Quincey, 23, during the preseason, the Red Wings tried to trade Quincey, but couldn't find a taker. When the season opened, Detroit had both young defensemen on the roster, but soon lost Quincey on waivers to the Los Angeles Kings.
Given an opportunity with the Kings, Quincey has blossomed into a quality NHL blue-liner. Over three seasons with Detroit, Quincey got into a total of just 13 games. Saturday night, Quincey played in his 30th game with the Kings.
"It's weird playing here (at Joe Louis Arena) on the other side of the red line," said Quincey.
Quincey is second on the team with more than 22 minutes of ice time per game. He is also the Kings' top scoring defenseman.
"I just feel good for him," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "It goes to show you what can happen when you come to a place and they let you play, you have an opportunity. We had Quincey and (Jonathan) Ericsson and Meech at the start of the year and basically rotated them all through exhibition. Maybe if we had just given one guy the job and not done that, he might have just taken off."
Meech has played well, but has gotten limited opportunity to crack the lineup this season. Meech has been the main replacement part for injured players, getting in nine games as a forward and six as a defenseman.
Such is life on a veteran, talent-laden team like the Red Wings.
"Obviously it comes into your mind once in a while, but it's something that's just out of my control," said Meech. "It shows you where you can get different opportunities if the timing's right. It's all about timing and opportunity and the personnel. Right here, I'm happy to be on one of the best teams in the NHL. I've been with these guys for a long time now. I never ever think the grass would be greener on the other side because usually it's not. I'm happy where I am. Obviously, I want to be in the lineup and I'm working hard every day I come to the rink to get there."
Quincey's performance has made the Kings' front office look good for adding him at no personnel cost. But adding Quincey by trade was an option that the Kings passed on without knowing that the Wings would put him on waivers.
"One of the situations in the league is that when you have a lot of good players, you're trying to keep all your good players," said Babcock. "We were unable to keep Kyle, but the other thing is no one traded for him. That happens to lots of players. You go through waivers once or twice then someone's the smartest team in hockey because they got him."