Goaltender masks have evolved since they first became a staple to the game of hockey, but in recent years they have become even more of a way for netminders to show off their personal style and flair.
For the entire month of November, which is Hockey Fights Cancer month across the NHL, Colorado Avalanche goalies Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz have chosen to wear masks that bring awareness to hockey's biggest fight.
Grubauer and Francouz each have special Hockey Fights Cancer masks that were specially made and will be auctioned off beginning Saturday, Nov. 23, with some of the proceeds benefitting American Cancer Society patient services programs in Colorado.
"I made it the last couple years in Washington, and we always auction it off for a good cause. I've never actually worn it for the whole month," said Grubauer. "This one is actually the first time I have worn it for a decent amount of games. I think it looks pretty cool the way Dave [Gunnarsson] designed it and the way Dave did it. It is for a good cause. It is going to get auctioned off after the game, try to get some good money and help some people out."
Both Grubauer and Francouz's masks were designed and painted by Gunnarsson, the artist behind DaveArt. The masks are decorated in lavender--the color that represents awareness of all cancers--and have Avalanche and Hockey Fights Cancer logos.
"I think it worked out pretty well, the painter did a great job," Francouz said. "I like the colors, I like it overall. First of all, it is for a great cause and that is the most important thing about the mask."
For Grubauer, the design is similar to what he typically wears but through a Hockey Fights Cancer lens.
"Just a different color, same design basically. They took the big Avalanche logo out and made a couple ones," Grubauer said. "Other than that, the mountains stayed white, the back always stays the same for me, nothing crazy. I give [Dave] the option, he can do whatever he wants, and he does always a phenomenal job.
"I think the color is one you don't see every day. The design basically stayed the same, but the color I think is pretty cool and pretty special."
Video: The Avs goalies' 2019 Hockey Fights Cancer masks
In addition to the goaltender masks, warm up sticks that are wrapped in lavender tape will also be up for auction. All the players will wear commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer warmup jerseys prior to Colorado's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs that will be available in the online auction. Each jersey has an "I Fight For" tag on the inside that has been filled out by the player.
The Hockey Fights Cancer initiative was founded in December 1998 by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association to raise money and awareness.
The initiative is designed to help unite the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families. Together, the hockey family looks to inspire hope and courage for those who are living with, going through and moving past cancer.
"I think it is great that we can connect the passion from sport with helping some people in need," said Francouz. "Of course, it is tough if you have a cancer and even small things can help you, so I think anything we do is great."
To date, the Hockey Fights Cancer programs of the National Hockey League Foundation, along with NHL supporters and fans, have donated more than $25 million to support the cancer programs of national and local cancer research institutions, children's hospitals, player charities and local charities.
"It is pretty amazing, you look back a couple years and I think the support and recognition wasn't as big as it has gotten the last two, three years," said Grubauer. "It is great to see more goalies wear it, more teams do it and have charities for stuff like that so definitely it is great to help some people."
To participate in the online auction, click here or text "Avs" to 52182. The auction opens on Saturday at 4 p.m. MT and closes on Wednesday at 9 p.m. MT.