Niklas Backstrom hasn’t been getting much pub recently, mostly because Manny Fernandez refuses to allow more than a goal per game, or show signs of shakiness or fatigue.
All the while, Backstrom is working hard in practice and preparing himself for any type of emergency. He also found time to get a newly designed mask.
In fact, the true shame of Backstrom not seeing any action for the foreseeable future is that the debut of his new mask will have to be delayed. In his last, and only appearance this season, Backstrom was sporting a Wild mask with some...well...let’s say odd, neon-ish colors. He admits that the colors on his old mask were too bright, and that led to his new, classy and simple mask design.
"I had a guy that (Equipment Manager) Tony (Dacosta) knows do the painting," said Backstrom. "Tony knows everybody."
The mask is predominantly red, or more specifically, iron range red, and meshes perfectly with the Wild’s third jerseys. A large Wild logo is featured on the upper right, and the alternate wordmark logo dominates the left. Running down the sides and back is the tree line taken from the primary logo. The wordmark and stars are displayed on the chin.
National Hockey League goaltenders will often invoke personality traits on their masks, a la Curtis Joseph and his "CuJo" paint job, or Eddie Belfour’s "Eddie the Eagles."
Backstrom did ask that one thing be put on his mask in a subtle way.
"The only thing I wanted was the Finnish flag on there," he said. "It’s hard to put something on the mask if you can’t quite picture it in your mind. I like this one a lot."