Connor Hellebuyck honors Dan Snyder with new mask
Goaltenders are no strangers to using their masks to honor icons, both in their sport and in the community – and this year, Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is adopting that trend with a mask honoring the late Dan Snyder.
With a mask created by Steve Nash of Eyecandyair Airbrush designs, Hellebuyck pays homage to Winnipeg, the Jets themselves, and to one of the team’s late players from back during their tenure as the Atlanta Thrashers.
First, there are the Jets.
The mask boasts a parade of air jets marching along stripes on the sides and front of the mask itself, giving subtle but effective tribute to the team Hellebuyck was drafted by and currently plays for.
Then, there’s the nod to Manitoba and Winnipeg with an artic background to the mask, which features a wolf, a moose, and a pond hockey landscape to create a wintry scene in greyscale as the main focus of the sides of the mask.
The top and backplate, though, pay special tribute to Snyder, and Snyder alone.
At age 25, Snyder – who had been a forward with the then-Atlanta Thrashers – passed away from injuries sustained in a car crash with teammate Dany Heatley. The accident, which Heatley survived and went on to recover fully from, sent Snyder into a coma; he passed away six days after the accident from septic shock.
He’s depicted both on the top of Hellebuyck’s new mask and on the backplate. The top will feature both a headshot of the former team member and a shot of him with his arms raised in victory, while the backplate gives special tribute to both Snyder and his family.
The Thrashers – now the Jets – haven’t handed out Snyder’s number, 37, in the years since he passed away. The team honors him with the Dan Snyder Award given out each year to the teammate who ‘best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed’, but haven’t touched his number in nearly 15 years.
That will change this coming season, though, as Hellebuyck switches from the number 30 to Snyder’s old number (which he wore throughout his career prior to last season). It’s a number that holds plenty of history for Hellebuyck, as well – but it’s nice to see him honor the late forward well with the mask he’ll don into the new year.
Here are a few more looks at the new mask, via the Winnipeg Jets: