With hockey season around the corner, NHL goalies are readying their new masks. Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars recently revealed his glow-in-the-dark mask, and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning showed off his color changing mask that reacts to temperature. But the coolest mask of all doesn’t rely on anything fancy -- just some good old hockey heart.
Winnipeg Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson recently tweeted pictures of his new mask featuring the likeness of World War II veteran, Len ‘Kroppy’ Kropioski.
A season ticket holder for more than 40 seasons, Kroppy made the 2 and a half hour drive from Kenora, Ontario to every Winnipeg home game. According to the CBC, he never missed a game until he fell ill in the Spring of 2016, but he made a triumphant return a month later and received a standing ovation from fans and players. He remained a staple until he passed away in September last year at the age of 98.
Kroppy was so much a part of Jets hockey that the camera would always focus on him at the end of the Canadian national anthem. There was Kroppy, dressed in military attire and donning his medals -- saluting while he sang his heart out.
When the season concludes, Hutchinson plans to give the helmet to Kroppy’s family. In the meantime, he’ll get the honor he deserves -- as a devoted fan and as a hero.
Watch the video to see the tribute to the late superfan.