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:
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: