For the St. Louis Blues fans that don’t know what FTW means, it’s an acronym standing for “For the win”. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know because even I was not originally aware of the meaning since FTW used to mean something else back in the old ECW wrestling days. I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
Focusing on the win, Jordan Binnington continues to win the mask game with almost every new lid he produces. Every once in awhile, he has a miss, but, more often than not, Binnington and his mask designer get it spot on.
That is the case with his 2022 Winter Classic cage. Dave Gunnarsson, no relation to Carl Gunnarsson, created another gem for this showcase game.
The interesting thing about Gunnarsson’s latest work for Binnington is how it incorporates old-school themes while still hanging on to the more modern aspects. This is true all over the mask.
When you see the mask from a more distant vantage point, you get that more modern, shiny look to it. The Blues logo, spotted on both sides of the head, has that bubble look that has been synonymous with several Blues goaltenders the last few seasons.
It gives it a 3-D look just with a little swash of white along the edges of the blue, making it look like the Bluenote is bubbled out. I’ve always been a big fan of this design choice, especially when coupled with that metallic blue.
What is special about this design is that you have that modern, 3-D aspect but the overall design looks like it was drawn in pencil and colored pencil. This could easily look silly or cheesy, but there is just enough detail to make it look professional while keeping the flatter look that a pencil drawing would have.
The edges of the colors and the Blues logo are not clean and sharp. It looks like a hand-drawn painting or colored pencil drawing, where lines have rough edges and an unevenness to them.
Binnington honors former Blues goalies Glenn Hall and Mike Liut with likenesses of each on either side of the mask too. Again, the goaltenders are drawn pencil style, giving them a look similar to the characters Max Mercy drew in the Natural. However, they are not cartoonish and you can tell exactly who they are, even without the autograph facsimiles.
As mentioned, this hand-drawn look could easily go wrong and look cheap. Instead, Gunnarsson has found the right balance of making it look classy and fitting it in with the vintage look of the team’s 2022 Winter Classic uniforms.
The blue is that softer blue that St. Louis will have on their shoulders and logo. The white is more of a cream color that matches the jersey color but also looks like the drawings were made on paper.
All of this matches Binnington’s new pads too. Binnington unveiled new pads along with his new mask and though the white is much cleaner and crisper, the overall look is a nice match with the entire ensemble.
Unfortunately, this is all in contrast to Ville Husso. As of December 26, Husso had not unveiled a new mask and his pad choice was rather disappointing.
It’s difficult to tell if Husso’s new pads are black or a VERY deep brown, but in either case it just doesn’t work for me. In the video, Binnington says he likes the contrast, but I don’t personally.
If Husso had gone for that more leathery looking brown, making it look like the kind of pads goalies wore until the 70’s or 80’s, it would have fit. This just looks like he grabbed some pads at the store and they were out of the colors he needed.
Regardless, the choices Binnington made continue to show he gets it. Say what you want about his attitude, whether you like his swagger or bravado or not. He understands this team’s history.
He has honored just about every big-name goalie in the team’s history. He had the CuJo mask to go along with the retro jerseys and he’s had the Fuhr-inspired mask for the 2021-22 season up until now.
He’s now featured two of the most prominent Blues goalies of yesteryear on his Winter Classic mask.
Maybe Liut, who is also Binnington’s agent, will take a slightly smaller percentage due to this honor. That’s quite unlikely, but Binner can always hope.
Whether coincidentally or not, Hall’s first game for the Blues was against the Minnesota North Stars. The Winter Classic will be against the Minnesota Wild.
Now, if Binnington can equal Jake Allen‘s record in Winter Classics, the Blues and the fans will be most grateful.