Montreal Gazette

The man behind the new mask

With storied logo, no fantasy images or angels of death

- DAVE STUBBS THE GAZETTE dstubbs@ montrealga­ Twitter: @Dave_Stubbs

His tender groin permitting, 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 was to arrive 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 or 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 netminder 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 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 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 singlegame 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, made it as far as Friday’s Bell Centre practice, the last before the 2013 campaign begins.

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 oncein-a-lifetime experience with Carey and some of the other Canadiens.”

Making such dreams come true is part of Perisa’s work with his hockeyhelp­ 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 — “Don’t worry, Coach, I’ll be there,” he told Michel Therrien Friday — the Habs, visiting Maple Leafs and coast-tocoast Hockey Night in Canada viewers will get a good look at the goalie’s new mask when the 2013 season begins Saturday.

 ?? STEVE NASH ?? Goalie mask designer/artist Steve Nash of Eyecandyai­r, his own Toronto studio, bolts the cage onto the new mask of goalie Carey Price Thursday.
STEVE NASH Goalie mask designer/artist Steve Nash of Eyecandyai­r, his own Toronto studio, bolts the cage onto the new mask of goalie Carey Price Thursday.
 ?? COLIN PAGE ?? Carey Price’s new mask is heavy on the Canadiens iconic logo with a clean and classic look.
COLIN PAGE Carey Price’s new mask is heavy on the Canadiens iconic logo with a clean and classic look.

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