Top 5: Roberto Luongo Masks
After a 19-season career in the NHL, Florida Panthers netminder and Twitter connoisseur Roberto Luongo has announced that he’s hanging up the pads (literally) and taking his talents to the retirement home.
I’ve decided to take my talents to a South Beach retirement home ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/BTuZIo8XT8— Strombone (@strombone1) June 26, 2019
In an open letter to the fans, Bobby Lu shared how he came to the difficult decision, writing about his challenges coming back from hip surgery and his many fond memories on the ice. Among the most notable were playing for team Canada and reaching the Stanley Cup Final with the Canucks in 2011, but what Luongo failed to mention were the number of stellar masks he’s worn throughout his lengthy career.
Working with some of the best artists currently in the game, Lu has sported countless beautiful and often understated masks over the years, so with the veteran netminder closing the book on his playing career, what better time than now to rank our five favorites?
In 2013, the Canucks brought back the 1915 Vancouver Millionaires jerseys, so naturally their netminders commissioned special masks to match. Painted by artist Marlene Ross, Lu stuck with a bold and simple composition to mimic the bold and classic design of the sweaters. “It’s a retro jersey, so I wanted to go with something looking a little bit retro,” he shared in a team video, “just simple, it’s got the logo on the chin, and on the sides of the ears.”
With so many goaltenders opting for cluttered and hyper-detailed masks, it’s refreshing to see something just clean and bold that carefully considers the uniform as well. Ross did a great job with this mask, honoring the team’s history and capturing the essence of the era.
Pastel color palettes aren’t seen often in mask designs, but Luongo’s yellow Panthers bucket from the 2015-16 season has us feeling all buttery and sunshine-y in the best possible way. With a matte finish and monochromatic color palette, the “FLA” letterforms and Panther head stand really strong.
I love the use of subtle shadow in this mask to give the otherwise simple composition some dimension, but the crisp execution of such a clean and graphic design make this mask both successful and unique.
In recent years, Luongo has become a pioneer of sorts in using gold leaf on his masks in a successful yet modern way. Evolving the two-dimensional style of his 2015 bucket, artist Stephane Bergeron created this beautiful gold, navy and white design for Lu that feels as rich as it does clean. Gold leaf is one of those mediums that could easily go awry, but the flawless placement and execution of this design leaves the end result looking balanced and clean.
In addition to the beautiful composition of this mask, Luongo added something extra to the back plate after the Parkland school shooting, the same town in which the netminder resides. The red ribbon was added to the back plate with the number 17 to honor the students who lost their lives. One year later, Luongo also donned a special Stoneman Douglas mask in warmups with 17 candles on the front to honor the anniversary of the tragedy and those affected.
Tribute masks are something we see a lot in the NHL, some more successful than others, but Luongo’s tribute to Curt Ridley in the 2012-13 season is one of the best. Painted by FX Allaire, the mask has distressed details like puck marks and scratches and pulls the central design element directly from Ridley’s iconic 70’s look.
“It’s beautiful,” Luongo told InGoal Mag. “I love what he did with it as far as the look and vintage effects.” Allaire used a traditional paint brush to execute the mask, adding to the old school feel, and giving the design and authentic, worn look. The simplicity of this mask paired with the distressed details looks really fantastic and pays excellent homage to a Canucks legend.
Humor doesn’t often find its way into goalie gear, but when it’s done right, it’s hard to beat. Jonas Hiller’s Movember mask is one that comes to mind as one of the best in recent history, but Luongo’s 2013 Movember bucket gives it a run for its money.
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With this design, Marlene Ross transforms Lu into Johnny Canuck, complete with a pom pom-topped toque and giant mustache across the front. Mustache jokes aside, this mask is really well executed and a creative way of bringing the Johnny Canuck logo to life. It’s fun and tasteful all at the same time, plus saved Bobby from having to grow a ‘stache of his own. When asked by Canucks TV if he would have a mustache for the month of November, the goaltender responded “that’s why I have one on the mask, so I don’t have to grow it myself.”
Best of luck with your retirement, Lu –– your style on the ice will be missed!