While thousands attended a memorial service in Slovakia Thursday to honor Pavol Demitra, Jaroslav Halak was preparing to open the NHL season with a tribute of his own back in St. Louis.

The Blues’ No.1 will honour his former Slovakian teammate on the back of his mask after Demitra was among 37 players, coaches and staff of Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club to die last week when the team flight crashed en route to the first game of the Kontinental Hockey League season.

InGoal Magazine has the first look the emotion-filled backplate, which depicts Demitra with arms raised after scoring for Slovakia during the 2010 Olympics, which he led in scoring. The images come courtesy of artist Jason Livery from Head Strong Grafx, who painted the backplate and will present it to Halak Sunday:

St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak is honouring Slovakian teammate Pavol Demitra with this mask backplate painted by Head Strong Grafx

Halak isn’t the first goalie to honor lost teammates as hockey’s horrific summer ends – Minnesota’s Josh Harding paid homage to ex-teammates Demitra, Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien (and his grandmother) on his new Wild mask.

Be sure to check out more impressive paint jobs on the Head Strong Grafx website, and the rest of Halak’s new mask photos below. While the backplate is 100 % Head Strong Grafx, the rest of the mask was originally painted by a friend of Halak’s from back in his native Slovakia, but he asked Head Strong to make some changes:

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23 Responses to Halak honors Slovakian teammate Demitra with new mask

  1. Alex J. Glass says:

    That’s great. Beautiful sentiment by Jaro, and excellent rendition in artwork. Pavel will wink at you for this.

  2. Tommy says:

    That is FANTASTIC!!!

  3. Radosevich says:

    AWESOME!!!!

  4. Karaoke Night says:

    <3 Jaro

  5. blueblood says:

    Classy gesture by Jaro. Demitra was one of my favorite Blues growing up…. so sad

    Pavol was certainly loved here in the Lou. RIP #38

  6. mariano says:

    Vyborne Jarko, nech sa Ti v novej maske dari, tak ako sa vzdy darilo na lade aj Palovi.

  7. joseph spartan says:

    Jaro velmi pekné od teba, Palo si to ur?ite zaslúžil. “DEMO” R.I.P

  8. Bibiána says:

    Je to krásne gesto Jaro. Takto Pa?ko nikdy neodíde z ?adu. ?es? jeho pamiatke ! R.I.P.

  9. Paul says:

    Pavol,Great captain and one of the best Slovak hockey players.Rest in peace. Pavol
    Don t forget you.

  10. Peter says:

    Jaro, nech sa Ti v novej maske dari, je to velmi pekne gesto od Teba.
    Palo, navzdy ostanes v nasich srdciach!!!

  11. Still can’t believe that Demo isn’t among us anymore. However, thank you Jaro for helping to carry on his memory with this gesture, and what a wonderful one that is.

  12. Nick H. says:

    Classy tribute and great art—I like it! Can anybody help explain the bull?

  13. Martin says:

    Jaro!! Krásne gesto :))))) Budem pozerat zapasy :)) tesim sa na teba

    RIP PAVOL :)

  14. jaja 1612 says:

    Supeer!!!!

  15. Martin says:

    Jaro I believe so Demo will help you to make big saves

  16. James says:

    “WOW” What a nice gesture for a well respected player.

  17. Lenka says:

    To je krasne gesto od Jaroslava Halaka,a tazko sa da slovami vyjadrit co to znamena pre milovnikov hokeja.

    RIP Pavol Demitra. You will never be forgotten.

  18. david arrigo says:

    Well done!

  19. Peter says:

    Just watching the Oilers/Blues game. It appears the “Blues” on this mask was painted over. Anyone know why?

  20. leggs says:

    Classy.

    Thats Great.

  21. Bob says:

    looks sweet, but has a deeper message

  22. dexter says:

    i like it i hope the blues go far in the playoff

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