Johan Hedberg says he's never felt better. His new mask, however, is showing signs of age.
Taking part in informal practices at AmeriHealth Pavilion this week, Hedberg donned his latest lid. The left side depicts a moose in devils horns who's lost his cane and dentures – and now wears glasses.
Maybe he's been around a while, but this moose is growing old gracefully.
"The moose has been on there all the time, but now maybe the moose is getting old," Hedberg said. "He's got glasses and here he's lost his teeth. You can see the cane sticking up there. He's not old, really. He's more wise, more experienced.
"Look how smart he looks. He looks like a professor."
In the moose's scowl, Hedberg sees competitiveness.
"He's got fire in him," he said. "He's not a grumpy guy. He's a very happy guy."
Hedberg earned his "Moose" nickname for the mask he had with the Manitoba Moose (IHL). He wore it for his NHL debut with Pittsburgh in 2000-01 and before long, fans were serenading him with moose calls.
Now more than a decade since he first broke into the League, the 39-year-old just keeps getting better. Last season, his second in New Jersey, he went 17-7-2 with four shutouts and posted career bests in save percentage (.918) and goals-against average (2.23).
Hedberg re-signed with the Devils over the summer, so don't call him "Grandpa Moose" just yet.
"He thinks I'm getting older," Hedberg said of the mask's artist, David Gunnarsson of daveart.com. "I feel younger than ever – and wiser."