St. Louis Blues introduce Jaroslav Halak, unveil two new goalie mask designs

It was a bit of a surprise when the St. Louis Blues shipped a couple prospects to the Montreal Canadiens to gain Jaroslav Halak’s restricted free agent bargaining rights, but it’s tough to blame the frequently goalie-challenged franchise for taking a swing at one of the breakout stars of the 2010 playoffs. Many people wonder if the longtime backup turned short time Habs savior will ever match those previous heights, but the Blues clearly are excited to have the Slovakian netminder aboard.

Here’s video of the team’s press conference introducing Halak to Blues fans and media.

While the PR-coached interviews and press conferences are a nice celebration of Halak’s arrival, you might also be interested to see what kind of mask he’ll wear next season. As it turns out, He will wear two different masks in 2010-11.

The first features the St. Louis skyline as well as some of the club’s best goalies: Jacques Plante, Mike Liut and Grant Fuhr (sorry Curtis Joseph). Here are some shots of that mask from the Blues Web site.

sideshotskylinehalak.JPG

(click to enlarge, othersideskylinehalak.JPG

(click to enlarge, photo from the Blues)

The second includes renderings of Halak’s favorite childhood cartoon, Lucky Luke (not to be confused with the “Lucky Luc” Robitaille). Here are some photos of the second mask from the Blues Web site and St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jeremy Rutherford.

luckylukehalakmask.JPG

(click to enlarge, luckylukehalakmask2rutherford.jpg

(click to enlarge, image via Jeremy Rutherford.)

I’m not sure if he’ll wear one mask more than the other or if he’ll rotate one for road games vs. home games, but they are both decent if not amazing designs. It’s always nice to pay tribute to the history of a franchise and Halak is wise to honor the Blues’ long history in the NHL.

If things go well, a future goalie’s mask might just feature an artist’s rendering of Halak himself.

Scroll Down For:

    Predators sign Arvidsson to seven-year, $29.75 million deal

    Getty
    4 Comments

    Viktor Arvidsson has cashed in on his impressive, breakout 2016-17 campaign.

    Playing in the final year of his entry-level contract — and making $640,000 in total salary, according to CapFriendly — the 5-foot-9 tall Arvidsson erupted for 31 goals and 61 points playing on the top line last season for a Nashville Predators team that eventually made its way to the Stanley Cup Final.

    The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday.

    From The Tennessean:

    Viktor Arvidsson received a new contract Saturday befitting a breakout star, with the Predators signing the energetic forward to a seven-year, $29.75 million contract, Arvidsson’s agent told The Tennessean. 

    Few unheralded NHL players last season surprised more than Arvidsson. Expected to be a secondary contributor, Arvidsson erupted offensively with 31 goals and 61 points as part of Nashville’s top line, tying for the team lead in each category. 

    Update: The Predators have since confirmed the deal, which pays Arvidsson an annual average value of $4.25 million per season, through the 2023-24 season.

    Nashville’s general manager David Poile has work remaining this offseason. The Predators still have restricted free agents Ryan Johansen — another member of that vaunted top line in Nashville — and Austin Watson left to get under contract.

    Watson and the Predators have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. Watson is reportedly seeking $1.4 million in arbitration.

    Flames re-sign RFA goalies Gillies and Rittich

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    The Calgary Flames have re-signed goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich to one-year, two-way contracts, the club announced Saturday.

    Both spent the majority of last season in the American Hockey League, but did get in some game action with the big club in Calgary. The 23-year-old Gillies, the Flames’ third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, played in 39 games with the Stockton Heat, posting a .910 save percentage.

    He then made his first career NHL start on April 6 against the L.A. Kings and stopped 27 of 28 shots faced for the win. He then began the playoffs as Calgary’s back-up because of an injury to Chad Johnson.

    Rittich made his debut two days later, allowing one goal on 10 shots in 20 minutes of ice time versus San Jose.

    The Flames have already taken care of their goaltending situation at the NHL level for next season, bringing in Mike Smith from Arizona and Eddie Lack from Carolina.

    Columnist: Potential new Hurricanes owner concerned with ‘revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market’

    Getty
    4 Comments

    The Carolina Hurricanes may have a potential new owner in Chuck Greenberg, the former CEO of the MLB Texas Rangers who also had interest in the NHL’s Dallas Stars.

    A report Friday goes into further details about Greenberg’s motivation in purchasing the Hurricanes from Peter Karmanos, who has been exploring a sale of the team for quite some time now.

    Previous reports indicate the agreement between the Hurricanes and Greenberg would keep the club in Raleigh, amid ages of speculation it may be a candidate for possible relocation to markets like Seattle or Quebec City.

    From the Raleigh News and Observer:

    Interviews with people close to Greenberg and others who have knowledge of the proposed purchase but requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks paint a picture of a front man who would be deeply concerned with the fan experience and revitalizing Raleigh as a hockey market, but lacking the money to fund the purchase himself and reliant on a group of investors to get the deal done.

    If the deal goes through, at a reported price of $500 million that likely includes a large amount of assumed debt while valuing the actual franchise closer to $300 million, Greenberg would move to Raleigh with the intention of making the team work here. That’s what Hurricanes fans long afraid of a move to Quebec City or Seattle during these years of ownership uncertainty as Karmanos has had the team on the market have been hoping to hear.

    The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006 but haven’t made the playoffs since 2009. Despite their postseason drought, Carolina is building quite a depth of young talent, most notably on defense. They could take another positive step forward next season, perhaps contending for a playoff spot. In a bid to bolster their goaltending situation, the Hurricanes also acquired and then signed former Chicago No. 2 netminder Scott Darling.

    Predators’ Watson asking for $1.4 million in arbitration

    Getty
    1 Comment

    It could be a busy couple of days for the Nashville Predators with two arbitration hearings scheduled through Monday.

    The first of those two was scheduled for Saturday with restricted free agent forward Viktor Arvidsson, while Austin Watson is scheduled to have his on Monday if no deal is struck before then. On Saturday Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Watson and the Predators have filed their numbers for that hearing with Watson looking to make $1.4 million, and the Predators countering with an offer of $700,000.

    Watson made $575,000 this past season for the Predators when he scored five goals with 12 assists in 77 games while mostly playing in a bottom-six role.

    The 25-year-old Watson was a first-round pick by the Predators in 2010 and has played his entire career to this point with the organization. In parts of three seasons with the big club he has scored just nine goals in 140 games.

    He played what was perhaps his best hockey with the team during the 2016-17 playoffs when he scored four goals (nearly matching his career regular season high) and added five assists during the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. All four of those goals came in the Western Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks, including two in their series-clinching Game 6 win. He also recorded three assists in the Stanley Cup Final.

    Given the relatively small gap here this seems like a classic “meet in the middle” situation when it comes to reaching a deal for this upcoming season.