Brent Johnson's New Helmet, Take II
(Btw, Ovie fired his agent.)
Bog friend Reuven sent me the following message last week about Caps goalie Brent Johnson:
Johnson has a new goalie mask (or at least it has new stuff on it)
Several people were asking me about it, and I sure as heck don't know. Looked like a gold grim reaper.
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to find out what's on it. :)
Thanks for the idea, Reuven. You've earned your choice of t-shirts from the Official Bog stash: a bright orange t-shirt that says "Don't Be Stupid," a D.C. United "Blackout" t-shirt or a "Can't Spell NCAA Without the CAA" t-shirt from our friends at the increasingly awesome CAA Zone.
Anyhow, I finally talked to Brent Johnson about his new helmet, which he's used three times. It is not, actually, a gold grim reaper, although that's not a bad guess. It is part of a helmet-wide homage to Led Zeppelin, Johnny's favorite band and the inspiration for several of his earlier helmets.
The Caps let their goalies get a new helmet every season. Olie sort of just tweaks his design, but Johnny likes to mix it up. So he took a whole bunch of Led Zeppelin album covers to a mask artist in Canada and told him what he wanted. Johnny particularly liked this image of a wizard-type dude, whose significance I know not. He thought it was from the cover of Led Zeppelin IV, but that appears not to be the case. Anyone?
So he wanted to get the wizard, black on a gold background, but that wouldn't have stood out well enough, so instead we have gold wizards on black background on both sides of the helmet. (Photo will be in tomorrow's paper.) On the bottom of the front is the Zeppelin Fallen Angel with blue Caps wings. On the top are the symbols of the four Led dudes, which can also be seen here. There is also a huge Capitals logo. On the back it says "Johnny" and "12," the latter in honor of his grandfather, hockey legend Sid Abel. (His previous helmet also paid homage to "The Shining" with a "Here's Johnny" reference and a Nicholson image.)
Zeppelin, like I said, is his favorite band, something he got into at the age of 14 or 15 thanks to his older sister. He has "every album, every download, every everything you can have on them," and although he never saw Page and Plant because of hockey commitments, he did see a Robert Plant solo show during the lockout season. "Awesome," he said. And his parents saw a Zeppelin show in '71 or '72, Johnny thinks at Joe Louis Arena. This is why teammates tell him to "Get the Led out." I asked why he put them on his helmet.
"It's a little bit about me, my kind of music," he said. "I mean, I don't think it'd be like appropriate if I put, like 'Seinfeld' on it, like my favorite TV show or something, you know what I mean? Led Zeppelin is something that gets me going."
(But not before games. Not too popular among his teammates. This led to a great conversation about locker room music that I will post in a few minutes.)
(And seriously, how great would it be if he skated out there with a "Seinfeld"-themed helmet next year.)
For the record, Johnny actually has about eight helmets, six from the NHL and two from the minors, which goes along with his hat obsession. See, he had a Curly R maroon Redskins hat in his locker today, and I asked if he was a fan, and he said that while he roots for the Skins he's mainly "a hat fan."
A hat fan?
"Oh my God, he could come every day with a new one," Bryan Muir said.
Johnny thinks he's got about 50 hats in D.C., well over 100 elsewhere. He was wearing an Arizona Cardinals hat recently and a fan saw the lid and said he really ought to be wearing a Skins hat, which is where the Curly R one came from, although Johnny said the Curly R "is just a great hat." The prize of his collection is an old Chicago Blackhawks hat. But anyhow, helmets. Johnny said vet Sean Burke has a mask with images of Plant, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, and that he doesn't necessarily think he's got the best mask in the league, and that the best mask he ever saw was worn by Kevin Weekes in Juniors.
"He had a white helmet and then a puck flying out of the helmet with blood coming out, so it was like the puck was half sticking out of the helmet," he said. "It was pretty ingenious."
Oh, and Johnny was 0-1-2 with his old helmet this season, and is 2-1-0 since the switch. I asked if the helmet and the wizard and the angel and all that were making the difference.
"I wouldn't say that," he said. "I'm not superstitious."
His second-favorite band, by the way, is the Beatles. So I asked him if he'd throw them on a helmet. You know, a yellow submarine and some head shots and whatever.
"You know what, that would actually be pretty cool," Muir said.
"Maybe next year," Johnny said. "We'll see how this one works out. Maybe next year."
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