Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth

Because I’m an optimist, let’s say there’s an NHL season this year. As soon as the new collective bargaining agreement is signed, sealed, and delivered, the Washington Capitals goaltenders will debut shiny new masks. Michal Neuvirth, who has been playing with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga, has been wearing a new mask featuring former Capitals great/current goaltending coach, Olie Kolzig, on its side.

I spoke with Braden Holtby on Saturday about his thoughts on Neuvirth’s new bucket. After I showed him the mask on my iPad, Holtby chuckled and flashed a big smile in approval. “Olie’s done a ton for the organization,” Holtby said, “so that’s pretty cool.”

Not to be outdone, Holtby has been wearing his own new mask playing with Bears. Unlike last season, where his helmet featured a split Bears/Capitals theme (and oh yeah don’t forget that awesome bear on a rollercoaster), Holtby’s new headgear is ALL CAPS (get it?).

David Gunnarsson, the Swedish artist who has custom-painted Holtby’s last few masks, integrated images of the Capitol building as well. On his Facebook page, Gunnarsson, in enthusiastic Swedglish, further explained the design:

When we created this one me and Braden brainstormed a lot about new cool ideas, we wanted it to breathe Washington DC in a classic way.

Soon this design idea crystallized. With this artwork we travel back in time and create an old school feeling all over the mask, and it is all based on the team logos and hidden details.

From a distance it is a retro design in calm harmony…and when you come closer you will discover a treasure map of detail work, and in the white base you find what has named the artwork, the Capitol building of Washington.

And then there’s the details on the backplate. Holtby brings back  the symbols from his previous masks: the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Japanese symbol for constant improvement, and the Latin phrase Carpe Diem.

In blue script near the top, there’s Benjamin, the name of Holtby’s first child, born during last year’s playoff run.

Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth

  • Thanks, I’ve always wondered what that Japanese writing meant!

  • Could someone check the asian (chinese/japanese) calligraphy on the back plate? The pen stroke looks off to me (2nd letter) but I am not an expert so need some verification or correction on my take.

  • New Parent

    can’t wait to see him in action with the caps again. Although, i will see him in DC in December! Can’t wait