A move west has Antti Raanta paying tribute to his new surroundings.
The Arizona Coyotes goaltender, acquired alongside Derek Stepan from the New York Rangers in a draft-day trade, unveiled his new mask Thursday, complete with artwork representing the historic American southwest.
The design includes one familiar feature, however - Rantanplan, a Belgian cartoon dog who serves as the netminder's nickname. Raanta wrote in The Players' Tribune in November 2016:
Rantanplan is a prison guard dog who helps the sheriff Lucky Luke track down escaped criminals. Except, instead of being really clever like an American cartoon dog, Rantanplan is really slow and he loves food ...
Rantanplan has always been on my masks for a personal reason. When I was 15, my goalie coach had two young children at home, and they loved the cartoon ... My coach loved giving us millions of nicknames. Every practice, he'd give you a new one. So one day, for whatever reason - maybe I was slow that day, or maybe he was just being cheeky with my last name - he starts yelling out, "Raantanplan with the save!"
I have to admit, it was pretty good. It just stuck. He stopped giving me new nicknames. From that day on, I was Raantanplan.
The creation is the latest project of Sweden's David Gunnarsson, who has produced several of the mask designs seen around the NHL.
As for Raanta, he'll have plenty of opportunities to show off his new look this season, as he becomes the Coyotes' new No. 1 netminder, replacing Mike Smith. In 29 games with the Rangers last season, Raanta posted a 16-8-2 record with a .922 save percentage.