There was a loud groan emanating from the city of Edmonton when news broke in July that unrestricted free agent goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) signed a four-year, $15 million deal, at age 36, with the Oilers. The Cult of Hockey's David Staples is getting over the terms of the contract and now commends Khabibulin in his choice of mask art that was released over the weekend.
Honoring the franchises best goaltender, Khabibulin's new mask will feature the standard eagle that's been on his masks in Tampa Bay and Chicago clutching the mask of the great Grant Fuhr.
Khabibulin's new look is a nice way to honor an Oilers legend, maybe not as artistic as Ray Emery's(notes) pugilistic endeavor, but it certainly beats Carey Price(notes) paying tribute to country legends George Strait and Garth Brooks. Of course, all good feelings about the inclusion of Fuhr's mask on Khabibulin's will be out the window as soon as his first 4-5 game losing streak or underachieving season.
Will we ever see the day when a goaltender truly honors net minders of the past? Could we see a goalie wear a bandana under the helmet to honor Kelly Hrudey? Or how ‘bout replicating the great style and art that Gilles Gratton displayed? Or maybe, just maybe a goaltender will be really brave and show a little machismo by donning Jacque Plante's original facial protector?