Winnipeg Jets superfan Leonard Kropioski died at the age of 98 before the start of last season, but thanks to goaltender Michael Hutchinson, his memory, and his picture, will remain close to the team this season.
Kropioski, better known as Kroppy, a World War II veteran who was immensely popular with Jets fans for his passionate singing and steadfast salute during the playing of "O Canada" before home games, is being recognized on Hutchinson's goalie mask.
The right side of the mask features a young Kropioski in uniform with "Kroppy, 1918-2016" written over the portrait.
The left side features an older Kroppy, the one most familiar to Jets fans, saluting with his full name written underneath.
The top and bottom of the mask feature some sleek Jets logos.
Kroppy, who was recognized by the state of Alaska with a special letter of commendation for his work during the Aleutian Islands Campaign against Japanese forces in 1942-43, was honorably discharged from the Keewatin/Kenora Royal Canadian Legions in 1946 and settled in Ontario, where he volunteered as a youth baseball and hockey coach.
When the Jets returned to Winnipeg, Kroppy, a season-ticket holder for more than 40 seasons, made the two-hour drive to MTS Centre for every home game, never missing one until falling ill in the spring of 2016.
Video: OTT@WPG: Jets fan "Kroppy" is embraced at MTS Centre
After missing only a month, Kroppy returned to MTS Centre and got a standing ovation from fans and a stick-tap salute from Jets players that moved him to tears.
After he died Sept. 13, 2016, Kroppy was honored before the Jets home opener last season with a touching video tribute.