Hockey season is upon us and that also means changes in the mask designs of goaltenders around the world. Vancouver Canucks netminder Cory Schneider's new mask will feature Canadian native art. Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators will have a new psycho predator theme on his. Then there's Lulea goaltender Johan Gustafsson, who will feature a hockey-playing penguin on one side and the team's logo on the other.
Atte Engren was drafted by the Predators in 2007 but played last season with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. He'll be spending the 2012-13 season with TPS in Finland and decided to switch from his James Hetfield-of-Metallica mask he wore a couple of seasons ago to honor a real, well, maverick: Tom Cruise in "Top Gun":
Engren's return to the TPS jersey for the season 2012-13 encouraged him to repaint his masks, once again. The first one has Turku on top of it, on the right side a picture of his home arena Turkuhall, and below the jaw part year 2010, that reminds him of the year TPS and Engren one the finnish SM-liiga championship.
The other mask has Tom Cruise with his Police-sunglasses, clearly in his Top Gun movie role. Say what? From Hetfield to Cruise?
Well yeah, you need some change every once in a while, Engren says without further explanations.
Metallica, specifically Hetfield, has been a popular design among goaltenders around the world, most notably by the Phoenix Coyotes' Jason LaBarbera, who switched his design this season to honor Pat Tillman.
Last month, Engren tweeted to former teammate Jeremy Smith that he wanted have fun with his "practise mask," which saddens us that it might not ever see an actual game, thereby killing handfuls of possible "danger zone" jokes.
Stick-tap to Antti Wennstrom
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy