The NHL regular season is almost upon us, kids. Camps and preseason games are in full swing which means that goaltenders are unveiling their new masks.
There’s nothing in sports quite like the functional art that is the goalie mask. It’s an important piece of equipment that also serves as a canvas for a player to express themselves.
Whether players are joining new teams or are staying with the same club and just want a refresh, we’ve seen a bunch of new buckets hitting the ice already.
One thing I noticed right off the bat is that a lot of goalies went to their local movie theater this summer because there is a very popular theme this season.
Top Gun Is Taking Over The Mask World
Given that Top Gun: Maverick was a mammoth success at the box office this summer, it makes sense that it is still fresh in the minds of some players. Especially whose team names lend themselves to a Top Gun theme.
Take, for instance, Philadelphia Flyers netminder Troy Grosenick.
That’s a great-looking lid for Grosenick who is expected to back-up starter Carter Hart in Philly. However, he’s not the only one who had the idea of basing his helmet on Mav’s, because so did Anaheim Duck back stopper John Gibson.
Damn, that’s slick looking. I’m not sure who copied whose homework, but does it matter?
I think not.
Not to be left out, Connor Hellebuyck — who fittingly plays for the Winnipeg Jets — went with an aeronautic motif too, although not explicitly Top Gun influenced.
I guess every Winnipeg Jets mask is aeronautically based no matter what… oh well. Stick taps to these guys on some top-notch buckets.
Kraken, Leafs, and Legos
When the Seattle Kraken announced their name ahead of the 2021-22 season, I remember thinking that the Kraken name would be a goalie mask designer’s dream.
Martin Jones hit a home run in my opinion:
I dig how the white parts on the sides of the mask have a scene with a Kraken attacking a ship. It looks like scrimshaw.
I’m a big scrimshaw guy. Can’t get enough of it.
Next up, we’ve got a pair of Toronto Maple Leaf’s back stoppers. I have questions about the Leafs’ new crease-sharing duo of Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. I’m not sure they can carry the team to the second round of the playoffs, let alone a Cup victory. I don’t care what oddsmakers say.
Either way, they’re gonna look damn good this season.
Matt Murray is wearing the one on the top with the cityscape and the lion on the back. Meanwhile, Samsonov’s darker blue-colored lid will look awesome with Toronto’s Milk-sponsored sweaters.
Now, there are so many goalies in the NHL, I can’t hit them all, but I’ve got to wrap up with Carolina Hurricanes netminder Frederik Andersen.
Why? Because his signature design element is usually a Lego guy.
Why are the Hurricanes (watch out for them this season by the way) backstopped by a man with a Lego guy on his mask? Well, Andersen — like Lego itself — hails from Denmark, so it’s a point of national pride.
More and more masks will be unveiled as we continue through the preseason ahead of the Regular season which gets underway on October 7 when the San Jose Sharks take on the Nashville Predators in Prague.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigl