The rubber has met the road, so to speak, when it comes to Ontario Hockey League goalie Tyson Teichmann commemorating his affinity for the hit drama Sons of Anarchy on his mask.
As a member of the Mississauga Steelheads last season, the Belleville, Ont., native wore a mask that depicted two images from the series — an insignia of the bike gang and a portrait of the protagonist Jax, who's portrayed by British actor Charlie Hunnam. Over the off-season, the 20-year-old was traded from the Steelheads to the Kitchener Rangers. He wore the mask in an exhibition game on Friday, but it won't be around for the regular season, by mutual agreement with the team. There's definitely some layers here, considering that the NHL, not too long ago, pushed to create a formal approval process for goalie mask art.
From Josh Brown (@BrownRecord):
[Teichmann] liked it so much, that he had the exact same paint job done for his helmet in Kitchener but never got a chance to wear it.
"It's gone," he said. "It won't be here this year. They (team) didn't think it was appropriate. We agreed that it's probably not the smartest to put a biker gang on the helmet even though it is a TV show."
It seems outlaws aren't welcome for a club whose mascot Tex is a cowboy.
"Some fans might not like it on there," said Teichmann, who is a massive fan of the critically acclaimed show. "It's a small sacrifice to make for all the great things we do here in Kitchener."
So it's goodbye Sons of Anarchy and welcome Luke Bryan. The American country singer will adorn one side of the new helmet while the other side will feature images "dedicated to the community." (Waterloo Record)
No doubt hearing "Tyson" and "goalie mask" will take one back to 2006. That was when then-Ottawa Senators goalie Ray Emery had to ditch a mask that depicted boxer Mike Tyson after wearing it in a game.
In that case, the Senators, ever quick on the draw, didn't talk with Emery about the unintended message of honouring Tyson, a convicted rapist, until after it became a 'talker' in the media. That was a justifiable case for the PC Police. The Rangers might have been killjoys here but at least they got out of front of it by having Teichmann make the change before the beginning of the real season. They have to cater to their crowd, many of whom probably passsed on the exhibition games. That's the Rangers' prerogative.
Sons of Anarchy, which airs on FX Canada north of the border and is the FX network's most-watched show at about 6 million viewers per week, is escapism. It's pretty harmless. However, as a team owned by its subscribers in a conservative town, the Rangers have extra incentive to avoid having season-ticket holders complain that they had to explain the concept of biker gangs to their eight-year-old who thought Teichmann's goalie mask was really cool. To be honest, if I was a dad who took his school-aged daughter and/or son to OHL games, I'd be more offended by arena/team staff including Robin Thicke's degrading dreck Blurred Lines on the arena playlist. Dollars-to-donuts says you'll hear that tune at an OHL arena next weekend. But I digress.
Whether the mask was actually offside and the fact Mississauga accepted is is beside the point. The Rangers, after 50 years, believe they know their crowd, and they've got a firm handle on their brand.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.