Hutchinson honors superfan ‘Kroppy’ on Winnipeg Jets mask
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson is no stranger to paying tribute on his mask.
He’s honored the jets of World War II in previous designs, going with aircraft themes for the club almost every year. This season, though, he’ll do something a little more special for the franchise – and for one of the team’s biggest fans.
Leonard Kropioski, known as “Kroppy”, was a staple at Jets games for years. The World War II veteran sat rinkside at every game for both the current incarnation of the Jets and the former, attending Manitoba Moose matchups when the Jets first left in 1996 until their return. He would drive over two hours from Kenora, Ontario for games after moving out of Manitoba, making the trip every game that his health allowed.
The long-time fan passed away last fall just prior to the start of the season last year, but Hutchinson has ensured that his legacy will live on, paying tribute to him on his mask this year. Take a look:
“Honoured to be able to pay tribute to Leonard Kropioski (Kroppy),” Hutchinson said in a tweet. “Couldn’t think of a better person to pull off this mask than @dielairbrush.”
Together with his long-time mask artist, David Leroux of Diel Airbrush, the Jets goaltender incorporated a picture of Kroppy on each side of the mask to go with a simplistic design for the rest of the lid.
“Mike always leaves me a lot of freedom when I paint for him,” Leroux told InGoal in an email. “He sends me a mock-up of the gear he will be wearing and some small ideas. This year, he really wanted to pay tribute to Kroppy. He always wants a maple leaf on the chin, so I created the maple leaf with the wings to make it look like an Air Force logo.”
The mask follows the usual design style for Hutchinson and Leroux’s collaborations, going with simple, clear colored designs and sketches of the tribute on the sides. It keeps the design from looking too busy while still giving ample space and respect to Kroppy, boasting a picture of him in uniform on one side and his iconic salute at the end of the anthem – made famous when he was televised at a game a few years back – on the other.
“It’s pretty simple and clean; that’s how Hutch likes his masks,” Leroux said.
Be sure to check out more Diel Airbrush artwork at their website, as well as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages, where they often share in-progress teases and behind-the-scenes previews, but first enjoy a few more angles of Hutchinson’s new mask, courtesy of Leroux:
Leroux also shared one of the sketches he made during the design process with InGoal (below).
“As you can see the final painting is not exactly like the sketch because its never the same thing when you are working on a 3-D object so I always leave myself the right to change a few things if I think its going to look better,” Leroux said.