I took a little time to think about it, but my feelings remain with my initial reaction—the new design is not working.
After wearing the same mask for virtually his entire career, Martin Brodeur has introduced a new mask for this season. The old Devils-logo-minus-the-N has been replaced with the acronym "MB30," Brodeur's initials and number, with the familiar tail from the Devils' logo. It's not a terribly drastic change, but it's very noticeable to Devils fans like myself. Here's a photo:
Brodeur debuted the mask during Wednesday's practice, and intends to wear it at tonight's season opener against the Islanders. Today is also the launch date of Brodeur's new website, which—lo and behold!—features the new logo, leading some to believe that Brodeur is using the new mask as a publicity stunt to pimp his site.
I doubt that's the case, though. The site logo is probably meant to mirror the new mask, not vice-versa. It's a new look for Brodeur, both on the ice and off. Brodeur doesn't need to resort to shameless plugs.
But I still hate the design. Brodeur's old mask was almost like a trademark or a tradition, something familiar that Devils fans have grown to love. It's a familiar icon, and something that's been symbolic of the best goalie in hisory.
Some fans will whine about the "me-first" mentality of the mask, with Brodeur's moniker on there instead of just the team's, but that really isn't the issue. Brodeur isn't a "selfish" player, if that's even possible for a goalie, and his mask isn't about to change that.
The real problem is simply that's it's different. Had he added the missing N to the logo, we'd be complaining about the same thing—it's not what we're used to.
Had this been 1996, no one would have cared. Sure, Brodeur's a great goalie, but why should that stop him from changing his mask at whim? Goalies change designs all the time.
But it's 2008, and Brodeur has had a storied career under a single logo. He's won three Cups, set the record for wins in a season, and is on the verge of breaking the all-time wins record.
Why should he set that record in a new mask? His mask is an emblem of his career, an unchanging constant throughout an historic tenure on a single team. And now, all of a sudden, it's changed. It just seems so... sacrilegious.
Brodeur, however, did acknowledge that if he plays poorly, he'll be switching back to the old mask. I doubt some airbrush art is going to alter the natural order of hockey, but this does show that Marty isn't all too attached to the new design. If the fans continue to show discontent, I'd bet he goes back soon enough.
And I have a hunch that he'll be wearing the old design when he has the chance to clinch the wins record.
For the record, this is the third mask Brodeur has worn in his career: when he first came up, he wore a stock mask, completely red save for a white stripe on the side. He's worn his familiar design since his first full NHL season. He's also worn a Team Canada mask in the Olympics, although he's also worn his Devils mask when playing for his country's team.
More info on this story can be found at Tom Gulliti's blog, Fire and Ice, and at the Devils' website. The two stories have different accounts as to who created the design; with all due respect to Gulliti (whose blog is excellent), I think the story on the Devils' site is more accurate.