CALGARY - Carey Price will have an extra set of eyes when he takes to the ice for the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic.
Price debuted his new mask Saturday as the Montreal Canadiens held their outdoor practice at McMahon Stadium prior to Sunday’s outdoor game against the Calgary Flames (CBC, RDS, Versus, pre-game 5 p.m. ET).
Price explained after practice that the mask—designed by artist David Arrigo—is a tribute to Habs legend Jacques Plante.
“The idea came from the artist and a friend of mine,”said Price.“They came up with the concept of a Jacques Plante-type mask.”
While the ears and hair on the side of the mask are modelled after Price, the eyes and mouth on the front represent Plante’s features.
“The artist took a picture of the side of my head, so those are actually my ears,”said Price.“It kind of looks a little creepy, actually.”
Price praised Arrigo for taking the concept and painting the tan and brown-coloured mask in a two-week time frame.
“He’s been working pretty diligently at it. People seem to like it.”
When asked for his assessment of Price’s mask, Montreal head coach Jacques Martin replied:
“Whatever mask that helps him to perform I think is the key. I think it’ll be a unique experience for him.”
Several of Price’s teammates also gave their approval of the mask as well.
“It was pretty cool to see that when we were getting ready,”said defenceman P.K. Subban.“It brings back some of the old goaltenders who played the game, back to Jacques Plante.”
“It’s pretty cool,”added Montreal captain Brian Gionta.“It’s pretty creative this time around.”
Rookie forward David Desharnais said it fits Price’s personality.
“It’s his face, so it’s pretty nice,”Desharnais said.“It’s different.”
However, not everyone liked the new mask.
“I’m not a big fan,”said defenceman Alexandre Picard, while noting that Price plans to sell the mask after the game to raise money for charity.“I like his other one better.
“You’ve got to glance at it for a while before you figure out what it is. I think it’s a mask of himself wearing a mask. It’s like a triple mask. It’s kind of weird.”
During the original Heritage Classic game in November of 2003 between the Canadiens and the Oilers at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, then Montreal goalie Jose Theodore wore a tuque on the top of his helmet.
Despite the frigid temperatures this year, Price says he'll due without a hat.
“I think I’ll be alright,”said Price. "Really, the whole practice I wasn’t cold at all. I think with the technology in underwear it’s pretty irrelevant really. I didn’t feel that bad out there today.”
If he gets cold during Sunday’s contest, Price said he’ll venture over to the bench during stoppages to take advantage of the heaters that the players get to enjoy.
“They’re all pampered,”Price said.“I think I might have to sneak in there (during) a few TV timeouts.”