A couple of nights ago, the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation held its Unmasked event. While obviously for charity, there was still a lot of Lundqvist-related things going on.
One of those things? Displays of some of the masks he’s worn in the past. We know he’s worn a lot over his years with the New York Rangers; how about with Frolunda?
Even better than that, though: his first mask, in all its glory. Much simpler than what we see from him today, and much more green.
"My first mask. I bought it at age 15, so 1997. It has had 4-5 different looks. At first it was all black. Then there was a white spider net which I taped myself. After that I painted a green spider net on a red base. After it got all destroyed when I took a shot to the head playing in a game against Russia in an under 17 tournament I repainted it again, now with red, white and green stripes. Finally, after using the mask for about 2 years I put this one on the shelf, but before retirement it was painted one more time and this is what it looked like... Growing up I made my own pads, painted my helmets, built my own nets. It's different today when you look at the equipment, helmets pads etc. 2016 is really the time you want to start playing in goal, if you like cool equipment. The era of brown heavy pads, self-painted masks are over..." - @hank30nyr
Of course Lundqvist was still years away from playing for the Rangers when he got this one, so it makes sense how striking the difference would be.
But what’s really cool about this one? We know how much Lundqvist works with Dave Gunnarsson to create his masks, and how beautiful and detail-filled they often are. But I think that gets a little more meaningful when you learn that Lundqvist used to do his own mask art, not to mention creating the rest of his goalie gear.
Humble beginnings - and it’s great to have a firsthand look of them.