The position of goalie has an inherent romanticism: masked men clad with cool armor, serving as the last line of defense. They play entire games, with an unparalleled ability to impact outcomes. When they're on, they can single-handedly defeat a giant foe. They are the consummate underdogs and towering superheroes all at once.
The NHL Lockout isn’t over yet – except maybe on Brian Elliot’s new St. Louis Blues’ mask.
While the NHL and NHLPA were preparing to meet and review the League’s latest proposal made Friday, the finishing touches were being put on Elliott’s new lid for a season no one is yet sure will happen.
The mask, painted for Elliott once again byHeadStrong Grafx, includes his now traditional Casey Jones themes from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame.
This time, however, the goalie-mask wearing, hockey-stick toting, cartoon character is breaking free of chains – and the padlock over his right shoulder – on the right side of Elliott’s mask, a nod to the lockout that has cost half a season so far.
On the other side, Elliott pays tribute to St. Louis and the Blues, with the Gateway Arch stretching overtop of the team’s musical note logo. The latter also features a haunting image of Casey Jones’ face within the logo itself.
Elliott included camouflage in the new design as a nod to the Scott Air Force Base just outside St. Louis, which also happens to be where the wife of his painter, Jason Livery of HeadStrong Grafx, is stationed.
No shortage of players have voiced their opinions on the National Hockey League lockout, which on Saturday enters its 77th day.
But you won’t find one with a more illustrious career and more right to say his piece than New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who now is slogging through his fourth work stoppage — a 1992 players’ strike and three lockouts.
“Whenever people talk about the possibility of a lockout, trust me, there’s a lockout happening,” Brodeur said on Friday, returning a text message with a half-hour phone call.
“I’ve heard ‘lockout’ three times in my career and three times we’ve been locked out.”
Brodeur, 40, is bound for the Hall of Fame during the first breath he becomes eligible. But that’s a bit of oxygen in the future, the native of Montreal-district St. Léonard holding a two-year contract that, admittedly, is in danger of dissolving in half.
With all the records Brodeur holds, some unlikely to ever be overtaken, with his three Stanley Cups and his Calder and three Jennings and four Vézina trophies, with his 18 full NHL seasons and nearly 1,200 games played, he has earned the right to express his opinion.
On Friday, many of his words packed a wallop.
“It was obvious to me that a lockout was going to happen,” Brodeur said. “But I didn’t feel the differences between both parties were so great as to jeopardize the whole season like the owners are trying to do right now.
“I still really believe there’s hope to salvage something from our season and I hope everybody will come to their senses and try to figure something out. We’ve come a long way since 2004 to get this game to a better state as far as competitive balance and everything else. I didn’t think we’d still be talking about this lockout in December. That’s the thing that bothers me the most.”
On Tuesday, the NHL sacrificed its 2,000th regular-season game through the three lockouts called by commissioner Gary Bettman. Brodeur whistled softly as the statistic was run by him, and he acknowledged that the omnipotent NHL head is just the top of a pyramid, the man who has a pocket-sized group of like-minded owners in CBA negotiations with all the rest muzzled on the outside.
“Understand this: Bettman is not commissioner of the game, he’s commissioner for the owners,” Brodeur said in a measured tone. “I have a hard time when you go through so many work stoppages under the same leadership. But he has the power. Owners are the ones who put him in office to run the ship.
“Like players, I’m sure owners have different agendas, different situations. A team like Winnipeg was striving last year and can’t wait to keep going. I’m sure they have a different perspective on what’s going on than some other teams in this negotiation.
“I guess for the NHL, it’s tough to ask for too many opinions,” he said, pausing for effect. “You just hope that people who represent the league and the players are really talking on behalf of the rest of their group. Every player is well informed about everything that’s going on. I hope all the owners are, as well.”
Of his three lockouts, Brodeur says players this time are best aware of the issues “by far.”
“It’s pretty impressive how the younger players have been staying together. We saw our union break in December last time around, giving up that 24-per-cent rollback when we weren’t even asked to. A lot of things the players did in 2004, I don’t see this trend with us now. We feel a lot stronger together.
“For me, as an older player, it’s kind of nice seeing some of the younger guys stepping up and being part of some meetings. Whether you’re a superstar or not, guys are involved and committed to make this right for the players.”
Brodeur considers the proposed meeting between players and the league, without official NHL and NHLPA representation, and sees value in anything that might push this stalled sedan out of the mud.
“I’m open to any idea,” he said. “I don’t know how productive it could be. At the end of the day, these people won’t be making decisions. Maybe we’d offer a little clarity to owners and players may hear different things from them.
“When Bettman or (hardline Boston Bruins owner Jeremy) Jacobs are not around, I think people are acting differently, that’s for sure. But all these people will get back in the room and they’re the ones who are going to make any deal. If a meeting could open a line of discussion and give us a more reasonable opportunity for us to make a deal, I’m all for it.
“The thing you can’t do is close options. Whether they’re good or not, you’ve got to try them. There’s too much at stake, people are suffering from us not playing — fans, businesses, it’s just not a fun thing that we have to go through.
“It takes seasons and playing time away from us. That’s what we do, we play hockey, we don’t make business. We’re not asking for the world, we’re just trying to keep what we have and we’ve been giving up a lot. Any kind of discussion could be a positive thing for both parties.”
Indeed, Brodeur has left many millions of dollars on the table through three lockouts. Statistically, he’s standing at 656 regular-season victories and surely he’d have eclipsed 700 had work stoppages not cut deeply into his career.
But he’s not losing sleep over the personal hit, saying, “I’m fortunate to have gotten what I’ve got so far.”
Brodeur thinks about 700 wins only when the milestone is brought to his attention. He knows that lockout-killed games are gone forever, most painful being those sacrificed in 2004-05, “when I was 32 and in the prime of my career.
“But now the situation is different. New Jersey is coming off a great season,” Brodeur said, the Devils having knocked off Florida, Philadelphia and the Rangers before falling to the Los Angeles Kings in a six-game Stanley Cup final.
“We really wanted to keep that going. Because of our run, a lot of good things were coming up in youth hockey in our area. The lockout is hurting a lot more than just NHL players and the owners. Canadian markets and some of the big U.S. markets won’t feel the effect, but I guarantee you, New Jersey and other places will feel it, big time.”
So for now, arguably the greatest goaltender of all time plays some shinny with teammates and, in the back of his mind, considers the idea of decent hockey in Europe, where 16 locked-out NHL goalies have found work.
He’ll explore options if the lockout is not settled soon, but not merely for the sake of playing.
“I want the right situation. I’d like to do something fun and competitive at the same time,” Brodeur said. “Many much younger goalies need to get out there and play to continue on their way in the NHL. I’m not going to take a job from them.
“Lately we’ve had moments of hope and then tough meetings and (failed) mediation. The lockout has been a roller-coaster for everyone.”
He manages a laugh as he considers the ride.
“When the reports on talks are positive, you get in the gym. When they’re not, you slack off a little bit. After a long playoff run, I worked really hard to be ready for training camp. The tough part now is trying to stay upbeat about playing.”
Marc-Andre Fleury asked for something “totally different” on his new mask this season, a departure from the variations of the “Angry Flower” motifs he had sported variations of for several years.
Together Fleury and Bergeron came up with two new and unique representations for the city and team.
The first is the big metal penguin that appears on the right side. The second was the billet aluminum – some call it diamond plate – background that appears all over the mask, a aesthetic tip of the mask to Pittsburgh’s industrial roots.
Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes (born Feb. 29, 1984 in Saskatoon, SK.)
Artist: Steve Nash of Eyecandyair From InGoal Magazine: While there aren’t a lot of drastic changes from the last iteration of Ward’s Black Beard mask, there are a few significant and other subtle alterations.
Perhaps most noticeable among the design differences from the 2010-11 lid is the fact Black Beard is no longer throwing balls of glowing fire. Ward has also added the words “Hurricanes” under the cage on the forehead, and he turned up the amount of what EYECANDYAIR calls “Maximum Bling,” with the shinning silver backdrop sharply offsetting both his “WARDO” nickname on the chin, and the swirling Hurricane take on his No. 30 that runs on the top of the mask.
Ward also went to a Vaughn mask, as indicated on the forehead, matching the goalie equipment he has always worn.
Like a lot of goalies, Ward used the backplate for personal references, highlighted by a cross with his grandfather’s initials inside, as well a Stanley Cup, green clover, the words “Have Fun” and a stork flying in the moonlight.
This is the template found at The PadsTracker, but I think he's changed pads since the beginning of the season.
Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets) signed with Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech Extraliga on Sept. 16th. Anton Khudobin (Boston Bruins) signed with HC Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL on Sept. 16th. Michal Neuvirth (Washington Capitals) signed with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga on Sept. 18th. Ilya Bryzgalov (Philadelphia Flyers) signed with CSKA of the KHL on Sept. 19th. Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL on Sept. 21st. Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins) signed with HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga on Sept. 25th. Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) signed with HC Dinamo Minsk of the KHL on Sept. 25th. Semyon Varlamov (Colorado Avalanche) signed with HC Lokomotiv of the KHL on Sept. 27th. Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks) signed with the Pelicans of the SM-Liiga (Finland) on Oct. 5th. Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders) signed with SC Riessersee of the ESBG (Germany) on Oct. 10th. Jonathan Bernier (Los Angeles Kings) signed with Heilbronner Falken of the ESBG (Germany) on Oct. 10th.