STATEN ISLAND — A graphic designer will be looking on with pride as the U.S. Men’s Olympic Hockey Team takes to the ice at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Dennis Simone designed the masks for goaltenders Brandon Maxwell and David Leggio.
Simone has worked on hockey masks for community leagues, the U.S. junior national team, even several NHL players.
But two weeks ago, he got the call of his professional life. The equipment manager for USA Hockey wanted him and his partner to create and paint the design onto the goalie masks.
“It’s pretty cool this is the first time I’m actually designing for the Olympics, it’s pretty surreal. Something I always wanted, to have a mask in the Olympics now I have two,” said an excited Simone.
Goaltenders are the only players who get to design their individual equipment.
Maxwell and Leggio discussed with Simone and Jason Livery, of Florida-based Head Strong GraFX, the artist who paints the design onto the goalie masks.
“(Brandon) sent me a picture of the equipment he’s wearing and it was very dense with red and blue stars so he went with that. The second goalie, Leggio, he wanted an American Eagle and he wanted a lion because his son is named Leo so that’s what I did. I went through seven drafts with Brandon and five with David,” said Simone.
It took two weeks to create the design. Partner Livery painted Simone’s completed designs on the masks that are being shipped to South Korea. The International Hockey Federation did have certain restrictions for designs. No hometown tributes, no personal tributes. One version for Maxwell included the Statue of Liberty, which the Federation nixed.
Simone is a life-long Rangers fan. His all-time favorite player, Rangers great and goaltender, Eddie Giacomin. Simone used to play himself - his position, of course, goalie! He feels fortunate he can merge his two passions.
“I love doing the artwork, I love seeing my work on TV and print and just to have the platform like hockey to express my creative vision is amazing it joins together two things very close to me which is hockey and art,” said Simone.
Simone works out of the basement of his Staten Island home. The walls are filled with collectible hockey masks from decades past.
“It makes me feel great to know my artwork halfway is across the world and people viewing it on a national stage is pretty exciting, international stage,” adds Simone.
You’ll get to see Simone’s work starting Feb. 14 — when the USA Men’s Hockey team opens preliminary round play against Slovenia.