Flames cover-up

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

A hockey goalie's mask is his pride and joy.

More often that not, it's an extension of their personality.

It's with great delight and pride they usually unveil a new design.

And then there's the Miikka Kiprusoff way.

The Calgary Flames netminder, Mr. Nonchalant, donned a new mask, along with leg pads, during the all-star weekend. The design is similar to his old mask, with the Ghost Rider skulls on the sides changed to white and 'Kipper' spelled out in bones along the chin.

"I like it," said Kiprusoff with a smile. "A couple of our players, they thought I needed a new mask and designed it for me and they're really happy about it.

"I don't really care about how it all looks. For me, the mask is protecting my head. For some guys, it's about them but I liked giving guys the chance. I'm pretty happy with what they made."

Whoa, wait a minute. Did we hear that right?

Artists, both professional and amateur, would line up with a portfolio full of ideas if given the chance to design a new mask for the reigning Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender. Yet Kiprusoff turned over the palette to a pair of teammates?

"I can't give their names. You have to find out," he said with a grin. "I'm making you work."

The quest was on to find out who designed Kiprusoff's new mask.

The first prime candidate: Fellow netminder Jamie (Noodles) McLennan. He has taken great pride in his masks over the years.

"I heard something about somebody else doing it but I do not know," McLennan said. "I like it, though. It looks awesome."

Scratch McLennan.

Who else has a sense of artistry, with a little bit of a dark side to him? A-ha!, Darren McCarty.

"No, not me," insisted the Grinder. "That's all (Kiprusoff). That's his sick mind. It looks good, the colours go well with his new gear but I would have added more red and some fire."

Andrew Ference also denied any part in it.

"He's probably just pulling your leg," the defenceman said. "I have no idea who did it but he doesn't ask us for advice."

Perhaps this is a fool's quest, a cruel practical joke.

But Kiprusoff insisted a pair of his teammates spearheaded the redesign.

Maybe a clue lies in the changes? Could the bones be a creation by Bones himself, the nickname given Tony Amonte.

"No, not me," Amonte said. "I have no idea who did it."

What about Robyn Regehr? Maybe he has an artistic side inside that behemoth frame?

"If I did, it'd have a big, painted target on it or something like that," he said.

Alex Tanguay?

"No. My drawing is not that good but I could do better than that," he said laughing.

Maybe the artists will be impossible to unmask thanks to a code of silence.

Then again, if anyone knows what's going on with the team, it'd be Jarome Iginla. He's the captain, after all.

When confronted, the squeaky-clean Iginla fessed up. And he sold out his cohort -- McLennan.

"Noodles was the head guy and had the most say, and the final say. Kipper handed it off to him," said Iginla, adding the idea started over a discussion at lunch. "I had a very minor, minor say."

It was Iginla's idea to go with white skulls; McLennan's big input was the bones.

"OK, I had something to do with it but I wasn't the catalyst," McLennan finally admitted. "I didn't want to say before because I didn't want to take credit and throw Iggy under the bus."

Iginla, the budding Michaelangelo, wants to do it again.

"I think Noodles is ready for a new mask," he said, of the old KISS motif. "He's developing and designing for other guys. He's got to work on his own."


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