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Canadiens' Condon honors Patriots with Classic mask

by Kevin Woodley

When it came time to create a mask for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1, Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon had one obvious request as a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots: a tribute to the NFL team he grew up rooting for.

Condon left the front of his Winter Classic mask to Swedish painter David Gunnarsson but made sure the artist included four key elements on the back plate.

Keith, Comeau mural

Canadiens goalie Mike Condon pays tribute to the NFL's
New England Patriots with his Winter Classic mask.
Courtesy of David Gunnarsson  (Click to enlarge)

"Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, four Super Bowls, and the team motto: Do Your Job," Condon said.

Gunnarsson, of DaveArt Studios, captured all four in black and white on the back of the Winter Classic mask, which Condon wore for the first time in practice earlier this week and will use against the Boston Bruins on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

Belichick, the Patriots coach, is on the left side of the back plate with his famous hoodie pulled over a headset, and Brady, the quarterback, is on the right, preparing to throw a pass. In between are the four Super Bowl trophies they have won together, and below them is the motto attached to the Patriots logo.

"I created it all with a sketch pen to catch that old-school feeling," Gunnarsson said.

The chance to be part of a Winter Classic in his rookie season is a big deal to Condon, but doing it so close to his boyhood home feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity. His family ties to the Patriots go beyond the usual: Condon's dad, Ted, is a sergeant in the Massachusetts State Police and worked for the NFL team.

"I grew up 30 minutes from the stadium, so we were a huge Patriots family," Condon said, "And my dad used to work security details for the Pats, so I spent a lot of time at Gillette Stadium."

Condon honored his dad and fellow Massachusetts State Troopers with a portrait of a group standing at attention on the left side of the mask he wore to start this season, which was painted by Philadelphia-based artist Franny Drummond of PaintZoo. Condon, who spends summers in Cape Cod, Mass., recently switched to a mask by Gunnarsson featuring images of the woodblock print "The Wave" by Japanese artist Hokusai.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon, a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, honors his favorite NFL team with a special mask for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots.

"It's kind of gotten ruined by pop culture, but if you go read about in any art book, it's pretty cool," Condon said. "There are a lot of different interpretations of it, so that's why I put it on."

The rest of Condon's Winter Classic mask won't require much interpretation.

Like all of his masks, the chin features a clover to honor his family's Celtic roots. The rest is a mixture of Canadiens and Winter Classic logos with snowflakes that he left up to Gunnarsson, who revealed more details the closer you get.

"The design itself is a clean-cut, old-school design, inspired from the [Canadiens] Winter Classic logos and uniform," Gunnarsson said. "It's created as a so-called 2-in-1 design, so it looks good from a distance, and when you come closer [there's] a lot of nice details and DaveArt Trademark Super FX."

As long as the Belichick, Brady, the Super Bowls and the motto are on the back, Condon is happy. Given his ties to Gillette Stadium and the Patriots, it's easy to understand why.

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