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For the World Cup of Hockey Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby believed it was important to pay tribute to the Tragically Hip and their lead singer Gord Downie.
Last May, it was revealed Downie was diagnosed with a terminal form of brain cancer and that the band would tour in Canada this summer. This made an impression on Holtby, who is a music fan and plays guitar in his down time in order to relax from the rigors of an NHL schedule. So he decided to paint Downie and the band, which hails from Kingston, Ontario, on his World Cup mask.
Chris Johnston of Sportsnet spoke with Holtby about the mask.
“Everyone knows the story in Canada,” Holtby told Sportsnet in an interview. “It’s one of those things that has turned a positive from a negative. It’s pretty amazing kind of what Canadians do. I grew up and I can have vivid memories of listening to my first Hip songs. We even had a class in school, a little part of it that was based on (the song) ‘Wheat Kings’ – I mean you just remember it. It’s Canadian, it’s the Hip, and with me being a huge music lover (it made sense).
“This being the biggest stage for hockey and a lot of Gord’s songs have hockey in them, I mean it ties the two in and I think it’ll be very good.”
Johnston reports that the mask will then be auctioned off to raise money for brain cancer.
The Tragically Hip’s impact on Canada, and hockey culture, has been widely discussed since Downie’s announcement. People in the game, such as St. Louis Blues forward Scottie Upshall and Logan Couture posted on social media that they went to see the band play over the summer. Hockey commentator Don Cherry recently spoke with CBC about his love of the Tragically Hip and their love of hockey.
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