Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth got a chance to show off a new look during Saturday’s 4-3 pre-season shootout loss to the rival Boston Bruins.
Neuvirth sported a new mask featuring the team’s late owner Ed Snider. The venerable Snider, who founded the 50-year-old franchise, died last April right before the Flyers began their first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals. Snider had been battling cancer. He was 83.
Neuvirth’s helmet features a pair of images of Snider at the top left, above the words, “A Flyer Forever.” Just below the inscription is a large Flyers logo with a silhouette of Snider’s head in the middle.
The idea of the design was created by Neuvirth and renowned goalie mask artist Dave Gunnarsson. The Snider images were designed by David E. Wilkinson.
"I think it says all you need to say," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told Sam Carchidi of Philly.com. "He is pretty special within our locker room and every player is going to pay tribute in their own way, and that is one way that Neuvy chooses to do so and I think it’s a great thing."
With Snider at the helm, the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975 and reached the championship series in 1976, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1997 and 2010. He also created the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, which used the sport to help provide life skills and educational assistance to inner-city children.
"It's a great thought," center Sean Couturier said to Carchidi of Neuvirth's gesture, "because he built this franchise and that’s why we’re here."
Neuvirth made 25 saves in the loss to the Bruins. He’s embroiled in a battle for the No. 1 goalie job with Steve Mason. Both players are in the final year of their contracts before they would become unrestricted free agents. According to General Fanager, Mason makes $4.1 million, while Neuvirth makes $1.625 million. Neuvirth, however, boasted better numbers (18-8-4, .924 save percentage, 2.27 goals-against average and three shutouts compared to 23-19-10, .918, 2.51 and four) and he replaced Mason midway through the Capitals series, helping extend the series to six games.