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Merzlikins' goalie mask pays homage to Fifth Line

Goaltender has plenty of Columbus pride on new cage

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

You can't miss Stinger on the mask of new Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins

The same goes for shoutouts to the Columbus fan base.

In one of the more colorful masks in the NHL, Merzlikins pays tribute to the CBJ mascot and the Fifth Line with a design debuted Wednesday by noted mask artist David Gunnarsson on Instagram.

The design features a number of depictions of Stinger, including large versions on either side of the mask. There is also a banner paying homage to the Fifth Line on the right side of the mask with a union general and Civil War cannon -- much like the one found in Nationwide Arena -- on the left side. 

Elvis Merzlikins, welcome to the DaveArt Family!🙏❤ It was so awesome to paint and create your first NHL mask! The coming NHL season is coming closer day by day. ⭐️ Elvis knew what he wanted👍, he wanted a tribute design to the awesome fans of Columbus Blue Jackets💪! Elvis told me his awesome ideas and I just put on the seat belt and started to paint!🎨 ⭐️ On one side the focus is on the fans with the slogan waving on a flag with maximum 3D FX…. And on the other side a Blue Jackets general is marching with his army behind him… ⭐️ And all over the bucket are lots of cool mascot stingers…!🐝 Storytelling in every little detail, for example the red mountains in the background is a tribute to Switzerland were Elvis has been playing🏔 ⭐️ Thanks Elvis for your trust! We are already working on the next mask chapter!🙏😊 ⭐️ Thank you all for your interest.❤ ⭐️ @merzly @bluejacketsnhl #DaveArt @nhl #DaveArtFamily #nhl #DaveArtTheCradleOfCreativity

A post shared by David Gunnarsson (@daveart) on

"Elvis knew what he wanted, he wanted a tribute design to the awesome fans of Columbus Blue Jackets!" Gunnarsson posted on Instagram. "Elvis told me his awesome ideas and I just put on the seat belt and started to paint!"

The mask also features a homage to Switzerland, where Merzlikins has played the last decade in the HC Lugano system. Merzlikins, 25, was twice the NLA's top goalie during his time with Lugano and compiled a 105-79-7 record with a 2.63 GAA, .920 save percentage and 15 shutouts in 210 career games. He is also a veteran of the Latvian national team. 

A third-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets in 2014, Merzlikins signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Blue Jackets in May and goes into camp set to battle Joonas Korpisalo and Veini Vehvilainen for time in the Columbus net. 

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