HbD Masks: 2019-20 Eastern Conference Bucket Preview
With less than 2 months until the 2019-20 season, new masks are starting to be unveiled by artists and goaltenders alike. For goalie gear enthusiasts, this time of year is like Christmas morning, as we get to see each netminder’s unique style in how they decide to design their buckets.
If you’re a regular reader, you know the drill; we’ll look at each mask’s style, legibility, composition and branding, and give them grades accordingly. Be sure to keep checking back, as we’ll continue to add new masks to the roundup as they roll out before the season gets underway.
Andrew Hammond, Buffalo Sabres
Sylvie Marsolais (Sylabrush)
Well, it’s official: Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond is the mask king of the east. When you mix humor with flawless artistry, it’s hard to go wrong, and that’s exactly what Hammond and artist Sylvie Marsolais have accomplished here.
• More: HbD Interviews: Sylvie Marsolais
Featuring the Sabres’ 50th anniversary logo prominently on top, the design is balanced out by the Hamburglar (holding a Sabres sword) on the right and primary Buffalo logo on the left. Like with all of Marsolais’ work, the color theory is excellent, creating a high-contrast and super slick look.
Having commissioned Hamburglar masks before, this concept is hardly a new one for the Buffalo netminder, but perhaps what take this season’s iteration to the next level (aside from the french fries surrounding “Hammy” on the chin) was the creative photoshoot Marsolais held to show off her work.
We’ve certainly never seen a mask delivered via drive-through window before, but hey, there’s a first time for everything!
Brian Elliott, Philadelphia Flyers
Fran Drummond (Paintzoo)
While it’s unfortunately not a Gritty mask, Brian Elliott and artist Fran Drummond once again bring Casey Jones together with a moose for the goaltender’s mask design. “Bringing Casey Jones to the streets of Philly,” as the goaltender described, this style is a major departure from the more modern, abstract bucket we saw Elliott wear last season.
In a way, Ells is somewhat returning to his roots here with the cartoonish style he started sporting in his stint with the Blues, but Drummond gives this a slight modern touch with the matte texture and bold logos in the background. The color is bright and clean, which makes for a legible design, but add in the beat to death brick wall motif, the innovation factor is what makes this mask fall a bit short compared to its predecessors.
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
Stephane Bergeron (Griff Airbrush)
Like fellow Griff Airbrush customer Corey Crawford, Matt Murray is never one to stray too far when it comes to updating his masks for each new season. Following the same template that Murray has sported since the beginning of his NHL career, this season’s iteration comes with only a few minor revisions.
“Murray likes simple and clean designs,” the artist shared with us. “His current mask is based on his Team Canada mask I [had] painted last Spring.” The gold stripe down the center is left plain on this mask, where in previous seasons, artist Stephane Bergeron included a shadowed Pittsburgh skyline. Murray has also gone back to using the primary Penguins logo on each side, whereas last season, the design incorporated a 90s-style Penguin it its place.
As the artist commented last season, “Murray doesn’t like paint jobs with a lot of details,” which doesn’t leave us a ton to dissect from a design standpoint. In another case of “if it ain’t broke,” Murray gets passing marks again, but there’s nothing here pushing the design into “wow” territory either.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Sylvie Marsolais (Sylabrush)
Marsolais is one of the best artists in the game when it comes to super sharp detail, and Vasilevskiy’s latest bucket is just further evidence of that fact. After first grabbing attention for her use of subzero color-changing paint on the big cat’s mask a few years prior, Marsolais has kept up her batting average with a series of sharp and stylized designs ever since.
“I wanted to get a similar look as his black mask we painted for him last season,” Marsolais told us of the new bucket, sharing that Vasilevskiy requested to keep a similar design to what he wore last season. “Alex [Mathys] came [up] with the idea of incorporating the lion paws on sides of the mask holding the ‘Lightning’ letters with his claws.”
With a mixture of soft airbrushing and clean, bold lines, a design like this could easy get away from an artist and get muddled, but Marsolais’ skillful execution really shines with her ability to blend styles in a way that feels balanced and legible. The smooth shading in the signature lion on top and claws wrapping around the sides contrasts with the bold typography, yet the design feels cohesive and complete. Another great paint job by this artist and goalie tandem.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Dave Gunnarsson (Daveart)
Goaltenders are often know to be superstitious, and Braden Holtby is no exception. His eccentric “Holtbyisms” have been well known dating back to his AHL days, but another consistency in the netminder’s career has been with his mask. While the composition varies year over year, artist Dave Gunnarsson always keeps Holtby’s masks feeling like pieces of the same collection.
• More: HbD Interviews: Dave Gunnarsson
“The design is a direct continuation built on Braden’s latest mask stories which live and breath Caps hockey,” the artist shared on Facebook. Like Holtby’s prior masks, the design centers around the team’s branding, but this iteration is a much simpler, bolder composition, which is a refreshing change given Gunnarsson’s often busy style. With the white backdrop, the stars and eagle take center stage, while the details like the landscape and holograms appear on closer look.
The drop shadows add some extra dimension to what is otherwise a really simple and bold composition, but overall, it’s a nice and clean design.