OKC Barons: For goalies, a mask is for more than saving face

Hockey can be ugly at times, but goalies' masks are a work of art. The masks of Yann Danis and Olivier Roy are just two examples.
BY ED GODFREY, Staff Writer, egodfrey@opubco.com Published: February 27, 2012
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Roy uses an artist in Canada that was selected by the Oilers' organization.

On the back plate of his mask, Roy has a cross painted for his grandmother who died more than two years ago. He also has the Edmonton logo painted on the back plate as well as the initials of his father, mother, sister and girlfriend.

“I've had that on all my other masks,” he said.

When he played in the Quebec Junior League for a team in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, Roy had painted on his mask the names of seven high school basketball players who were killed in a bus crash a few years earlier on their way back from a game.

“It was my first year there after being traded,” said Roy, a fifth-round pick by Edmonton in the 2009 NHL Draft. “I didn't know much about the city. The trainer game me the idea. It was a pretty cool idea.”

DAVID LENEVEU

A goaltender usually gets a new mask when he changes teams or organizations. The organization usually pays for the art work, which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 depending on the chosen design.

“Any time you move to a new organization, they don't you wearing the old team colors, the logo,” David LeNeveu said. “Most of the time, if I come to a new organization I tape over the old logo just to cover that up until my new one (mask) comes in. If someone doesn't have a mask painted, it's probably because he came in the league late and didn't have time to get a mask painted.”

LeNeveu, a Canadian, has worn 11 goalie masks in his career. He's kept each one, although he lost one mask in a fire and another had to be painted over.

“When I went overseas (to play), they couldn't get a mask in time so they had to paint it over,” he said.

On each of the masks, his nickname “Lenny” and the Canadian flag has been painted on the back plate.

His current mask also is painted with the Barons' and Edmonton Oilers' logos.

“Early on in my career, I did a little more personalized stuff,” LeNeveu said. “I had a dragon type thing when I was with Phoenix. Over the years, I kind of just want to stay as much team oriented as I can.

“The last couple of years, I have just been trying to get the team logo and the colors on the mask so it matches up nice and everything looks great. The team loves it. I do a little bit of personalization with the Canadian flag on the back and my nickname, but that is about as far as I go.”

LeNeveu always has used an artist in Philadelphia that his agent had known.

“I give some ideas to my painter, but he has done such a great job over the years I really just let him do his work,” LeNeveu said. “He will show me his ideas, and I will sign off on them.”

Asked about his favorite hockey masks, LeNeveu likes masks such as the one worn by Carey Price of Montreal when his mask was adorned with art of former Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante.

“I like the old throwback type of stuff where you pay homage to the guys who have played the game in the past,” he said.