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Nabokov’s New Lightning and Skull Mask

Nabokov’s New Lightning and Skull Mask

In his 14th season in the NHL, Nabokov is still going strong and it may have something to do with the skull creature that’s adorned his mask since his rookie year. Not about to switch things up now, Nabokov has collaborated again with his longtime artist, Todd Miska of Miska Designs, to bring the skull creature to South Florida. Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Evgeni Nabokov to a one year deal on July 1st, 2014. This move solidified a position that while strong for the majority of last year thanks to standout and Vezina finalist Ben Bishop, broke down in the playoffs and exposed a lack of depth. It would appear that Nabokov will come in as a veteran backup to compliment Bishop quite nicely. Having played 40 games or more the last three seasons, Nabokov is clearly capable of a second string role in addition to being able to fill in should Bishop go down with an injury in similar fashion to the end of last year.

Remaining consistent to past masks, such as the lid he had on Long Island, Nabokov and Miska have the omnipresent skull creature along the left side of the mask. The detail is incredible, with blue glares shining through the eye sockets and long intimidating claws. Also along the left side of the mask, Miska has taken a chromatic approach to the Lightning logo and name. It fits nicely with the skull creature and creates an almost “Terminator” like effect. In the background all over the mask, it’s a stormy sky with bolts of white lightning shooting down towards the chin. On the chin, the classic “Nabby” nickname is spelled out in an electric font, staying true to the team’s name. Across the backplate, the number 20 of Nabokov’s childhood idol, Vladislav Tretiak, sits just above the names “Anna” and “Warren”, and just below the names of Evgeni’s children, Andrei and Emma. Once again, the lightning stands out against the royal blue background.

Placing the names of children or idols on masks is rather standard among professional goalies, with Ilya Bryzgalov and Mike Smith even getting their childrens’ drawings on their masks in the past. However, the names Anna and Warren are something special to Nabokov. Warren Strelow was a father figure and goaltending guru to Nabokov during the early 2000’s in San Jose when the Kazakh native first came to the United States. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 73. Anna Gorouven was a dear friend of Nabokov’s who ultimately convinced him to remain in North America when he was playing in the AHL for the Kentucky Thoroughblades. Playing time was tough to come by and Nabkov had aspirations of returning to Russia, but Gorouven urged him to be patient and keep chasing his dreams. She also passed away and placing their names on his mask is Nabokov’s way of commemorating two people who contributed to the admirable accomplishments Nabokov has accrued to date.

Nabokov is most likely recognized for the large body of work during his days in San Jose. From the ’00-’01 season until the end of the ’09-’10 campaign, Nabokov was the main man in the Shark Tank. While his regular season success was lauded, missing the post season only once in his San Jose tenure, he and the Sharks failed to make a deep playoff run. With the acquisition of Antti Niemi, Nabokov was seen as dispensable at the end of his contract and was ultimately  scooped up by the New York Islanders before clearing waivers for the Detroit Red Wings. Despite initial reports Nabokov was less than enthused about playing in New York, he put together three solid seasons on an admittedly average team, going 57-43-18 with a .910 SV%, a 2.60 GAA, and 9 shutouts. He’s a steal for Tampa Bay at $1.55 million on a one year deal and should provide ample back up for a Lightning team looking to build on a successful season last year.

As mentioned, Todd Miska of Miska Designs has been Nabokov’s long time artist, creating the Islanders monster mask as well as his Olympic mask from 2010. Be sure to check out his website and you can see the rest of Nabokov’s awesome new helmet below!

Left Cage


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