WINNIPEG - He stopped some pucks, signed some autographs and still can’t wipe the smile from his face.
Yes, Chris Mason’s first full day on the ground in Winnipeg as a member of the Jets just confirmed what the veteran goaltender has said since the day the franchise was officially relocated from Atlanta on May 31: this is going to be a whole lot of fun.
"It’s definitely starting to feel more real," said Mason after a workout with a number of pros at MTS IcePlex on Monday. "I just got a tour of the rink last night after I got into town and it’s just so exciting. My dad was with me, too, and he got a chance to go see the room. We peeked in at the rink... it’s just really exciting. Coming out today and skating here, too, and starting to see all the Jets’ logos, the signs on the buildings downtown on Portage was pretty cool.
"It feels real and I’m super excited."
Mason will spend the week working out and practising while looking for a school for his daughter - his wife is expecting another in October – and a place to live.
The 35-year-old veteran, who has appeared in 286 NHL games in his career with Nashville, St. Louis and Atlanta, was also showcasing his new goalie mask. Painted by Steve Nash of EyeCandyair.com, the mask features the new Jets’ logo under the chin with Mason’s No. 50 with wing extending back.
Both sides of the mask include a drawing of ‘Eddie’ -- made famous by heavy-metal rockers Iron Maiden and originally drawn by Derek Riggs -- while the back plate features an eagle with the family name spelled out on the wings as a tribute to his family.
"It’s one of the best things about being a goalie — you get into design cool masks like this," said Mason, who first came up with some ideas and began trading them with Nash. "We talked back and forth and then he sketched out some stuff and I thought it was awesome."
Mason will practice with the rest of his Jets’ teammates officially at the opening of training camp on Sept. 17. The first preseason games are scheduled for Sept. 20 with Winnipeg and Columbus playing split-squad games at MTS Centre and at Nationwide Arena in Ohio.