Garret Sparks pays tribute to Broncos’ Parker Tobin on new Marlies mask
Garret Sparks has one of the best save percentages in the AHL – not just this season, but over the last handful.
He’s not just known for his on-ice excellence, though. From the Trevor Kidd-inspired pads that he designed earlier in his career to the ‘Sparks40′ logo he drew up for his own masks, his talent putting together unique looking gear off the ice earns him plenty of attention as well.
On his newest mask, though, he and Quebec-based artist Sylvie Marsolais took on a more serious note, paying tribute to one of the players who lost his life in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash just last month.
Marsolais shared photos of Sparks’ new lid with InGoal, explaining the concept behind the design and how she and the Illinois-born goaltender created the gritty, unique feel it displays.
“Garret wanted to recreate his old design, but with a different feel,” Marsolais explained.
“He really knew what he wanted for his design because he drew his ‘Sparks40′ logo on the backplate, the ’40’ on the chin & the ‘Toronto’ on the sides. We just added our touch to make it pop out with some chrome effects and 3D highlights and shadows.”
Looking deeper at the design, it draws on the inspiration of ‘Graffiti Alley’ in Toronto, a renowned block covered in street art. Sparks and Marsolais pulled an individual design from the alley, featuring a mummy reaching out of the forehead of the mask and holographic birds scattered around, and built the rest of the design behind it and a backdrop of white brick.
They pulled inspiration from the Leafs and Marlies in more subtle ways. The mask itself doesn’t feature the official logo for either the AHL or NHL club, but take a closer look at the mummy; with his outstretched arms and hooded head, he creates a maple leaf within the design when you step back and take a look at the overall image. Outlines of maple leaves fall subtly on the sides to hit the ‘Toronto’, which is quietly superimposed over Sparks’ current pad design, but that’s it; the mask manages to both pay tribute to the team and take on a mind all its own, although that’s hardly a surprise for the lid’s owner.
The backplate is an assortment of tributes, with the ‘Sparks40 logo across the bottom to match his number on the chin and his usual nod to the greater Chicago metro area, where he grew up.
Perhaps most special of all, though, is the tribute to Parker Tobin, taking the place of the Chicago skyline that’s been featured on the backplate in the past. In the shape of a banner, but designed to look like the back of Tobin’s jersey, it’s the goalie union tribute we’d all expect.
Top it off with a Calder Cup playoffs logo and a nod to the Lemonheads HC, Sparks’ perennially-successful summer league team, and it’s a mask full of personal meaning and touches.
Take a look at some of the additional angles of the mask, taken by the incredible photographer Sebastien Gervais: