Roberto Luongo re-joined the Florida Panthers a month ago, but he picked up right where he left off seven years ago, unretiring his last Panthers' mask. Now, with just two games to go, he's debuted a new mask, and it, too, has a connection to his past.
Here's the full mask, courtesy Drew Goldfarb. It was painted by designer Marlene Ross, who's done eight other masks for Luongo:
You might recognize the Panther head on the right hand side from Florida's third jerseys, where it sits inside the circular logo. As for the "FP' on the other side, there's a good chance you've never seen it before.
Unless you frequented the message boards over at Chris Creamer's Sports Logos, one of the best sports logo websites on the Internet, back in 2007. Seven years ago, that design made an appearance as part of designer Matt Kauzlarich's mission to rebrand the NHL.
That's the only place it appeared. The Panthers never used it (although they totally should have). Kauzlarich's entire design is a tight update on what they're using now:
And, until it showed up on the side of Luongo's new mask, nobody -- not even Kauzlarich -- has given it much thought.
"I'm very flattered and would love to be compensated in some manner," added Kauzlarich, "but I feel like if I raise too much of a fit about it, the artist will simply paint over the mark on the mask with something else."
But don't put this on the artist who put it on the mask. According to Ross, "it was sent to us and requested to be used in the mask design."
Which means it came from Roberto Luongo himself, which is actually pretty crazy.
It means that, in 2007, just after he'd been traded to the Vancouver Canucks, Roberto Luongo saw a design he really liked, and thought to himself, damn, if only I hadn't been traded away from the Panthers, I'd totally use that. And then he either saved it to his computer, or simply never forgot it. Seven years later, when he was back in Florida, he still hadn't forgotten it.
Luongo's been sitting on this thing for seven years. And the moment he got his wish, and returned to the Panthers, he dusted it off and made sure to get it on a mask before the season was over.
Update: OR, Luongo just found it recently while searching about the Internet for mask ideas. That's not nearly as cool, though, so we'll rule it out, even though Luongo explained that this is exactly what happened.
Either way, Goalies are weird.