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Mason transforms Flyers on zombie mask

by Adam Kimelman

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux has been asked a lot of things in his hockey career.

"Can I paint you in zombie form on my goalie mask?" had to be a new one.

Giroux obviously said yes, as did teammates Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. All have been transformed into zombies for Steve Mason's new goalie mask, which he unveiled for teammates and fans Friday during practice.

The new mask follows Mason's initial helmet this season, which featured zombie versions of famous American historical figures, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross.

This time Mason went a bit more contemporary.

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"I thought of a couple guys to put on there, some of the guys I'll hang around with away from the rink more often," Mason said. "I asked for their permission. I didn't want to make them a zombie without their permission, but I'm sure they're pumped to see the final product."

It might have been an odd question -- Can I make you a zombie? -- but Mason said it wasn't hard to ask his teammates.

"I just flat-out told them, ‘Would you want to be on a helmet? You're going to get a lot of airtime. At the end of the day you'll probably look better as a zombie than you do in real life,'" Mason said.

Giroux, who has known Mason since they were teammates on Canada's team for the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship, immediately signed on.

"He asked me and I was pretty pumped about it," Giroux said. "He's huge for this team. He wants to be here, he wants to win. When some teammates do something like that it's pretty cool."

Mason again worked with artist Franny Drummond to create his newest mask. Drummond, who painted the historical-figure zombie mask, said when he and Mason discussed mask designs during the summer the plan was to create three zombie-style masks, starting with the historical figures. The teammates were going to be the final edition, but Drummond said Mason changed the plan.

"We were going to do Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent," Drummond told "But he was excited and he wanted to push through it [to current teammates]."

Those teammates were pretty excited.

"It was pretty cool," Giroux said. "It's pretty awesome he did that."

Even those not on the helmet were impressed. Players spent extra time looking at the mask prior to practice and before drills started on the ice. Assistant coach Ian Laperriere, who ran the on-ice portion of practice Friday, skated by Drummond to tell him he how great he thought it looked.

"I think it's a great idea," goalie coach Jeff Reese said. "He's honoring his teammates. I think it's great. I really looked close at it. It's very detailed. Very, very nice. It's very detailed and very beautiful. And hopefully there's a lot of wins in there."

"They were pretty impressed by it," Mason said. "They knew a helmet was coming. They had seen pictures of it [but] once you see the finished product in person it's pretty impressive to see the amount of detail Franny was able to put into the helmet."

It isn't just teammates on the mask. The backplate features zombie tribute images of head equipment manager Derek Settlemyre and equipment manager Harry Bricker.

"We thought that would be a cool touch to throw them on there," Mason said. "They do so much for me to make sure I'm all set with the gear. Little tribute to them on the back."

In addition to the new mask, Drummond also had a zombie-style stick for Mason. Drummond said that wasn't part of the initial plan.

"A friend of mine was in my shop," Drummond said. "He's not a hockey fan at all. … He's like, why don't players ever paint their sticks? I said wow. I never really thought about that. I know they get beat up. I texted Mason and he said it would be kind of cool to do."

When Mason saw the finished products for the first time Friday before practice it all looked better than he envisioned.

"I talk with Franny as he's going through the design process and everything," Mason said. "He'll send me pictures updating how it's coming along. One you actually get it in person you see the detail he puts into it. I said it on the last helmet, it's some of the nicest work I've ever seen. And it's on a goalie helmet too. That makes it that much more special to myself. And he goes above and beyond and does a stick to match the design of the helmet. Never seen anything like it. I'm fortunate to have a painter like Franny here."


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