There’s not a lot of room for personal style in hockey. Each skater wears an identical jersey, pants, and socks, with personal touches limited to a unique number, or something slightly flashier like a tinted visor or Alex Ovechkin’s yellow skate laces.
The one exception is goaltenders, who not only wear uniquely painted masks, but also wear an entire canvas on their legs.
Former Canuck Eddie Lack has always had fun with his pads. While with the Canucks, he had pads that combined to form the Johnny Canuck V logo, a Vancouver Millionaires logo in Canucks green, and the classic stick-in-rink logo. Even his pads with the Canucks’ then-AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves were awesome. After getting traded, Lack put asymmetric Hurricanes logos on his pads with Carolina, eye-catching flames during his brief stint in Calgary, and a devil’s tail when he was in New Jersey.
Of course, nothing compares to Trevor Kidd’s fiery setup for the 1996-97 season.
Trevor Kidd— Tendy Gear (@Tendy_Gear) June 16, 2017
Calgary Flames (1996-97)
Brian's Air-Pac setup pic.twitter.com/0DONBqA4Zh
While not all goaltenders choose to go such a creative route with their pads, they can still be a place to make a personal statement. Such is the case for two goaltenders in the Canucks’ system, who debuted new pads in the last week: Anders Nilsson and Mike DiPietro.
Nilsson’s new pads are a throwback to pads he had when he was 14 years old. They feature a pair of polar bear claws on the boot of each pad, with an eye-catching icicle design on the shin and thigh rise, as well as on the blocker and catcher.
It’s a unique look — I can’t think of anyone else in the NHL with similar pads — and Nilsson has to hope the claws will bring out his inner beast.
As for DiPietro, he had to get new pads for a very good reason: he’ll be playing for Team Canada at the World Juniors in Vancouver.
DiPietro went for a clean and classic look for his Team Canada pads, with a sleek red and white design that combines to form a maple leaf when he puts the pads together. What’s unique about his setup is a special addition to his catcher.
DiPietro has a simple tribute to the Humboldt Broncos stitched onto the cuff of his catcher, which is something he says he’s been doing with all of his gear.
“Ever since the crash happened, it’s on all of my gear,” said DiPietro. “I did it in Windsor this year to start the season. It’s just something I want to do, I really didn’t tell anyone about it.”
“It just reminds me of why I play hockey: being with the guys, spending time with them,” he added. “Even though I really didn’t know those individuals that passed away and the community, we’re all Canadian, and it’s something that I want to do this year. I might do it through my whole career now, keep it on my glove as a reminder.”
In fact, DiPietro even had a tribute to the Broncos on his mask that he wore for Canucks training camp, including their logo on the right side.
It’s a small touch, but it’s a reminder that DiPietro isn’t just a great prospect for the Canucks, but also has great character and is a quality human being. In case you needed another reason to cheer for DiPietro and Team Canada when the tournament kicks off on Boxing Day, there you go.