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Photos via In Goal Magazine

Goaltender David Leggio spent all of last season with Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Rochester Americans. Leggio was dominant, winning 38 games and sporting a .924 save percentage. That performance merited MVP consideration at season’s end.

With Dany Sabourin having left during the offseason in favor of playing in Austria, the Hershey Bears were in desperate need of a veteran goaltender that could share the load and help mentor Capitals prospect Philipp Grubauer. Bears’ general manager Doug Yingst found his man in Leggio and signed the goaltender to a two-way contract for 2013-14.

“Obviously, the Bears are one of the best franchises in the AHL,” Leggio said to The Patriot-News’ Tim Leone during the summer. “They’ve won championships and the arena’s always packed. I’m very excited to come to a place where I feel we’ll have a chance to win a championship. They’ve won championships in the past and have a commitment to winning.”

On Tuesday, the Bears opened training camp and Leggio arrived in style. He just might have the coolest mask in the AHL.

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First Look at Braden Holtby’s New Mask (Photos)

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Via the Washington Capitals Instagram, here’s Braden Holtby‘s new mask.

Designed by Swedish artist-to-the-stars, Dave Gunnarsson, Holtby’s mask features a sign on its side reading, “Please do not feed the animal.”

Not sure if that refers to the eagle with the crazy eyes or the actual guy wearing the mask.

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Michal Neuvirth’s New “Eagles of Washington” Mask

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Photo credit: DaveArt.com

Though recently we’ve seen him in a baseball cap more often than not, Michal Neuvirth‘s got a new mask. As with all Neuvy’s lids, the latest one was done by masterful Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson, who posted pictures on his Facebook page. This is sad news for us at RMNB as Neuvy’s current Olie Kolzig Memorial Mask is a favorite of ours. The old mask lionizes former Capitals great Olie Kolzig on one side along and Czech netminder Jiří Holeček on the other. Neuvy has yet to wear his new mask, so the old one is still around for now.

The new mask features a large image of Washington’s Weagle logo on the front, but with the head chopped off and replaced with a more realistic rendering. The right side, as always, sports an image of Strekov Castle from Neuvirth’s hometown in the Czech Republic.

“Just as usual the design is pumped with details and hidden messages,” Gunnarsson, who designs masks for many NHL goaltenders, including Braden Holtby, wrote on Facebook. “It is so exciting to create a design in old school style mixed with top modern fx.”

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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?).

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Photo credit: DaveArt.com

On Tuesday, Michal Neuvirth completed a deal to play for his former team HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga during the NHL lockout. Well, now he has some new goalie gear to work in too.

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Braden Holtby New Mask

A few weeks ago, word leaked out on Twitter that Braden Holtby was sporting a new goalie mask during practice up in Hershey. We sent photographer Kyle Mace — of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey on Earth — to the Bears’ next home game and had him capture every angle imaginable of Braden’s new roller-coaster themed mask.

Well now, David Gunnarsson — the Swedish artist who custom-painted Holtby’s new headgear — explains the backstory to the project.

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All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.

We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.

The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.

Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.

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Semyon Varlamov’s New Mask as Described by the Artist

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted by David Gunnarsson.

The new Semyon Varlamov mask painted and airbrushed by David Gunnarsson.

Today, pro airbrush artist and custom mask painter David Gunnarsson released photos of the new mask he painted for Semyon Varlamov. He also shared some of the inspiration and backstory behind the mask’s creation.

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Braden Holtby Debuts His New Goalie Mask on Caps365

Today, Hershey Goaltender Braden Holtby showed off his new Capitals Mask to Mike Vogel of Caps365. Among the notable things that were discussed:

  • Holtby had an artist in Sweden paint the mask.
  • The process took a week to complete and was done all through email.
  • The back of the mask features flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the text Carpe Diem and a Japanese symbol which means “constant improvement.”
  • Braden is having the artist design another mask that he’ll wear Opening Night in Hershey. And he sounds worried it’ll arrive on time.
  • No word if any Russians were injured in the making of this mask.

Below the fold, check out all sides of the helmet in all its screen-captured glory.

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