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Canucks' Lack honors Swedish heritage with mask

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Eddie Lack pays tribute to the 1915 Stanley Cup-winning Vancouver Millionaires with his new goaltending equipment for the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic to be played Sunday (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). But the Vancouver Canucks backup goaltender saved his new mask to honor other Swedish players who have played for the franchise.

Painted by David Gunnarsson of DaveArt Designs, Lack's new mask features pictures of former captain Markus Naslund and longtime defenseman Mattias Ohlund on one side, with Thomas Gradin, who works for the Canucks as a scout, and goalie Johan Hedberg on the other. Instead of a portrait, Hedberg is represented by his old mask, which also was painted by Gunnarsson.

Eddie Lack

(Click to view full-size image)

Lack has some explaining to do, however, after he put current captain Henrik Sedin and twin brother Daniel on the back of the mask, which also features Lack's dad and the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

"I explained to Henrik they are still active players and once they retire, they are in the front," Lack said with a smile.

The chin of the mask features an Orca painted in the style of Haida Gwaii artists, a nod to a preseason trip to northern British Columbia communities of Prince Rupert and Massett. There is a similar image on the traditional hand-woven, hand-painted wicker hat that was given to the team by the people of Haida Gwaii and is passed around to honor the player of the game after each win.

"Me, (equipment manager) Patty [O'Neil] and (assistant equipment manager) Jamie [Hendricks] all came up with the idea for mask, the pads and gloves and the mask from the start," Lack said.

Lack had the pads and gloves custom made by his longtime equipment company, Brian's Custom Sports, to match the Vancouver Millionaire jerseys the team will wear against the Ottawa Senators in the Heritage Classic. It is a rematch of the 1915 and 1921 Stanley Cup Finals.

Lack's maroon-and-tan pads feature the team's big "V" logo split in two, with the word "Vancouver" running through the middle. The glove and blocker have the logo stitched in, with matching stripes and Lack's No. 31 stitched into the side of the blocker.

Lack, who grew up playing hockey outdoors in Sweden, including some games and practices, wanted to get matching gear even if there was no guarantee he plays Sunday ahead of starter Roberto Luongo.

"I wanted to get special gear made up for such a special event." Lack said with another big smile. "I think it looks sick."

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