Three-quarter profile view of mask that Habs goalie Carey Price is expected to wear into action Saturday against Toronto.
Photo courtesy Colin Page
His tender groin permitting (and he says it’s no problem), Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will be wearing a new mask when he skates into the abbreviated 2013 season Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The mask arrived at Price’s home Friday by courier from a workbench down Highway 401, delivered at roughly the same time the goalie was receiving treatment in his team’s clinic.
Price’s new lid is not a rainbow of colour nor a hard-shell canvas of outrageous artwork. It doesn’t feature country singers or rodeo horses or even a motorcycle-riding angel of death.
If the stylishly crowned Price has ever worn a “classic” look, this is it.
There is absolutely nothing fancy here – just a predominantly white helmet with a large Canadiens logo on the right side, its mirror image on the left, Price’s No. 31 in the middle of a C on the chin, and red, white and blue half-logos on the top.
Toronto’s Steve Nash, who in his Eyecandyair studio specializes in the phantasmagorical airbrush creation of goalie masks – in fact, a helmet onto which a protective cage is bolted – took the job of cooking up something for Price on very short notice.
Indeed, there’s another mask currently being prepared in Sweden by legendary Dave Gunnarsson of Daveart Designs. But the uncertainty of the lockout’s end made it impossible to have that one finished and shipped to Montreal in time for the season.
“When it became clear that his Daveart mask couldn’t be ready, I asked Carey, ‘Did you really want to wear a new one?’ ” said Wess Perisa, who handles sponsorships, appearance and charity endeavours for Price and eight other Canadiens.
“He said, ‘Yeah, man, I did,’ so I got on the hunt to source someone else who could make the season-opener a possibility.”
The pool of high-end mask designers is a shallow one. Having Nash in Toronto, near Perisa and sensitive to deadline, sealed the deal.
Price threw out ideas about what he’d like and Perisa brought them to Nash, who kicked into creative gear. The mask on which he would design and paint was shipped out of Bauer’s St. Jérôme plant, north of Montreal, only this Monday, put on a train heading west.
It was picked up in Oshawa by Perisa, who brainstormed with Nash before the designer immediately got to work. For a few nights, Nash toiled between midnight and dawn as he usually does and on Thursday night he had the finished product picked up by courier, which delivered it to Price’s home by noon Friday.
“It’s a very simple, classic look,” Perisa said of the latest model. “It’s something fans will relate to perhaps more than some of Carey’s masks of the past.
“Steve said, ‘When you have the Canadiens logo, that’s enough. You don’t need to do a whole lot more.’ It’s going to play well off Carey’s (CCM) gear, white with red trim, with blue involved as well.
“Carey tells me what he likes on past masks, the scheme he’s going for,” Perisa said. “I work with the artist, who gets the vast majority of the credit for it. Daveart’s last mask, with flames and chrome, came about because Carey wanted something shiny. We spoke with Daveart to say Carey wanted a torch feel on that one.”
The plan for the new mask had been to send Price sketches Monday night for final approval but time ran out, so it was with trust that this one was produced. The goalie will wear it for a couple of weeks until the new Gunnarson mask arrives, at which point this one will be auctioned for the benefit of the Montreal Canadiens’ Children’s Foundation.
Don’t ask Price how many different masks he’s worn in the 297 NHL games he’s played over five seasons; he probably hasn’t catalogued them all, many of them auctioned for charity.
Surely this list is incomplete, but Price mask themes have run from plain white in his rookie season through the rodeo to country music to a dandy featuring aces of spades with the Grim Reaper riding a chopper through a pile of skulls.
He’s honoured Hall of Fame Canadiens netminders and worn a Jacques Plante tribute model for the 2011 outdoor Heritage Classic in Calgary, the latter including eyes, a bare mouth and a rendering of his own ears that all looked “a little creepy,” in his words.
Price has worn a pink mask that celebrated his First Nations roots while drawing awareness to breast cancer research. He has tugged on one paying tribute to Remembrance Day and another marking the Canadiens centennial.
There have been two a single-game contest pieces, and he’s modelled, though will never play in, a mask produced to promote his association with the Assassins Creed III video game.
Price’s most recent mask, the Gunnarsson flame and chrome model, debuted last March and made it as far as Thursday’s Bell Centre scrimmage, the goalie’s last on-ice work before the 2013 campaign begins.
For all anyone knows, there might even be a sackful of Price masks in the Canadiens equipment room, but there was no chance the 25-year-old was going into this season without an entirely fresh look.
It will be after Saturday’s game – itself a circus given that it’s Game 1 following this season’s lockout – that Price’s fame will truly kick in with 4-year-old Caydance Geroux of Hamilton, Ont.
“Carey recently received a very powerful email on his website from the family of Caydance, who’s been fighting cancer for two years,” Perisa said. “She and her family (parents Mike and Kim and her 5-year-old sister, Raya) will be at the game Saturday and I’ll make sure they’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Carey and some of the other Canadiens.”
Making such dreams come true is part of Perisa’s work with his hockeyhelps.com organization, which co-ordinates charitable events for the players he represents. On the Canadiens, they would be Price, Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Max Pacioretty, Travis Moen, David Desharnais, Colby Armstrong, Brandon Prust and Brendan Gallagher.
Price’s health permitting, the Habs, visiting Maple Leafs and coast-to-coast Hockey Night in Canada viewers will get a good look at the goalie’s new mask when the 2013 season begins Saturday night. Its owner will see it only on the scoreboard or perhaps reflected in the glass, as usual on the inside of the mask looking out.
Toronto mask designer and painter Steve Nash puts the finishing touches on Price’s mask Thursday.
Courtesy Steve Nash
The reverse side of Price’s mask, bearing a mirror image of the Canadiens logo.
Courtesy Colin Page