Tampa Bay Lightning goaltenders Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott share the exact same airbrush artist, Sylvie Marsolais. She will work together with her spouse, Alexandre Mathys, who handles internet marketing and helps with the ideation and development of the masks. Alongside one another, they make up the organization Sylabrush, stationed in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Quebec, an off-island suburb of Montreal.
Normally, they are equally goaltenders. The couple very first fulfilled on the ice while squaring off in a men’s league hockey game and they even now confront each other on a weekly basis.
Sylabrush functions with shoppers throughout the hockey world, including a number of goaltenders enjoying in the both equally the Nationwide Hockey League and American Hockey League.
Outside the house of Vasilevskiy and Elliott, other clientele incorporate Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault, Joonas Korpisalo, Craig Anderson, Anton Khudobin, Louis Domingue, Zach Fucale and Jean-Francois Berube.
Immediately after earning an art diploma in college, Marsolais began airbrush painting in 1999, generally doing work on jobs for close friends with out recognizing a job in airbrush art would appear from her perform.
“When I initial started, I was painting just about anything that was possible to paint,” Marsolais mentioned. “We started off with motorcycles. We viewed some Television set displays about motorcycles obtaining painted and modified. There was a lot of demand from customers for that.
“So, we did some bikes. We did some wall murals. We did some motorcycle helmets.
“Then, the goalie helmets started off. Something you could paint, we have been hoping to do it.”
Then arrived Berube, Sylabrush’s initially shopper that would go on to play in the NHL, who was taking part in in the Quebec Important Junior Hockey League for the Montreal Juniors at the time. Not prolonged right after, Sylabrush acquired the enterprise of Khudobin, who was enjoying for the Carolina Hurricanes and was the to start with energetic NHL consumer.
Shortly soon after, Marsolais satisfied a teenage Vasilevskiy, who was schooling in Stittsville, Ontario for the duration of the summer season.
“I was 15 or 16 years aged, perhaps 17,” claimed Vasilevskiy. “I satisfied her somewhere in Canada and she just supplied, ‘If you ever have to have your mask painted, just simply call me or textual content me.’
“Certainly, when I came in excess of in this article all through my 1st year in 2014, I failed to have anybody right here, any artists. But I nevertheless had her quantity, so I just texted her and, considering the fact that then, she’s been my artist.”
Drafted by the Lightning with the 19th total decide on in the 2012 NHL Draft, Vasilevskiy first wore a Sylabrush mask through his ultimate calendar year in the KHL though taking part in with Salavet Yulaev Ufa. The chin of his mask highlighted his nickname, “Vasya,” which was altered to “Vasy” upon his arrival in North America.
On the forehead of Vasilevskiy’s masks, Lightning supporters have come to be familiar with a lion. But at initial, the mask actually highlighted a tiger.
“I just instructed her I desired a lion on there as a substitute of a tiger, almost certainly for the reason that of The Lion King,” Vasilevskiy joked with a laugh. “I just thought it suited me extra and, considering that then, it is really been on my brow.”
It was Marsolais and Mathys who selected the tiger style on Vasilevskiy’s initial mask. Why?
“Very well, he loves cats,” Marsolais laughed.
When Vasilevskiy created the go to North The united states, the improve to the lion was an easy modify for the two sides and, irrespective of what cat sits on Vasilevskiy’s forehead, Marsolais has experienced a blast observing the goaltender’s progress on the major phases of hockey.
“It truly is just fun to be in a position to see all those goalies evolving from the starting to wherever they are now in their occupations,” mentioned Marsolais. “It is amusing due to the fact the to start with time I gave Andrei his mask, he informed us, ‘This is my Stanley Cup mask.’
“He did not win it the 1st calendar year in Tampa Bay, but it didn’t choose a lot for a longer time ahead of he did it.”
Marsolais estimates that Sylabrush has concluded above 700 goalie mask paint work about the decades. Mask assignments can selection everywhere from 20-60 hrs of perform and though Marsolais claimed she can’t select a most loved, she could inform me which one particular took the longest.
“It truly is tricky to just decide on a single,” Marsolais mentioned when questioned about her favored mask to date. “It’s usually the past 1 we just completed for the reason that it normally takes so much time to create just one. So, when it truly is completed, it truly is a great achievement and we’re normally happy of the outcomes. It’s hard to select only a single.
“Some masks get 20 several hours. Many others can just take 40 hrs. I did 1 that I painted for about 60 hrs. It was the toque that was for Michael McNiven. That just one possibly took the longest time.”
All of the work by Sylabrush is finished freehand. That includes two of the most latest assignments, dueling chrome masks for Vasilevskiy and Elliott. Each of Tampa Bay’s goaltenders acquired new masks for the second 50 % of the 2022-23 time and, of training course, they both equally adore them.
“She’s been unbelievable,” Elliott said. “Everything’s come back way greater than anticipated. It can be normally brilliant to see what you get when you open up up that package deal and you won’t be able to assist but smile when you open it.
“It just indicates so substantially. That’s our previous piece of devices we set on right before we go out and the minimal significant touches that I have, like the place I came from, the moose on the again and my son’s initials and stuff, individuals are the factors that you see right in advance of you form of go out for fight. That is what I love about it.”
Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Elliott grew up looking at some of the wonderful Maple Leafs goalies, from Felix Potvin to Curtis Joseph to Eddie Belfour.
“Potvin was the guy ideal all around when I started off staying a goalie,” Elliott described. “Escalating up in Toronto, he was the man that we have been looking at each individual evening. Then, Cujo was there soon after that, so he was form of one more dude that I seemed up to. Then, Eddie Belfour.
“So, when you have a few fellas that all have an animal topic, Potvin with the cat, Cujo with the dog, then Eddie the Eagle, I was like, ‘Well, if guys are heading to get in touch with me the moose, I much better have a moose on my mask.”
Elliott’s mask style is a nod to Potvin, who famously rocked his trademark cat mask through his vocation.
“He was a person of my heroes rising up,” Elliott spelled out. “He had a comparable mask with the cat eyes and the cat teeth. It really is comparable.
“I did not want to go too close to it and I think this just one has been the most effective nevertheless. It truly is various plenty of with the shade plan and I love the chromed-out search to it.”
Elliott’s mask has generally showcased a moose on the backplate, but as soon as he built the go down to Tampa, he experienced to add a minor flare and give the moose some sunglasses for the Florida sun. In addition, the moose is wearing a mask as a nod to Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with “B1E” as the respiration holes of the mask.
The backplate also options the emblem of his alma mater, University of Wisconsin, along with the initials of his a few sons, Owen Daniel, Edward David George and Brooks William.
Elliott’s chrome mask capabilities a palm tree/lightning bolt mixture on each sides with his signature moose antlers on the best. Though exceptionally very similar to his mask from the very first 50 percent of the year, this mask capabilities one variation on the top rated, a adjust that holds a great deal of indicating to the veteran netminder.
“I got the define of an F-35 fighter jet, mainly because my spouse was in the Air Pressure, so I preferred to give her a nod,” Elliott explained. “The Air Pressure Foundation down below in Tampa, as properly as the one in Madison where I stay in the summer season, they have all the F35s stationed there. Just about every day we see them flying, so it truly is form of a nod to people sorts of matters.
“These ones have been my preferred. I just enjoy the palm tree with the lightning bolt and the moose antlers. Then, introducing the Air Drive nod into the mix, much too.
“I instructed her, ‘Try not to make it much too apparent. I do not want a large jet like the Winnipeg Jets.’
“But I required her to get the job done it into the structure. She set a lot of truly fantastic operate into it.”
Elliott truly set some of the operate into the structure of the mask with his personal arms, sending Marsolais a tough sketch of what he envisioned in advance of leaving anything else in her arms.
“I am not an artist,” mentioned Elliott with a snicker. “So, from time to time I will attract it out. I was like, ‘This is awful, but this is in which you arrive in!’
“I just advised her, ‘These are the principles that I want. You go with it.’
“She genuinely did an amazing position.”
Identical to Elliott, Vasilevskiy’s design and style has remained very constant all over his time in the NHL.
“It is been pretty significantly the identical structure for the earlier five or six decades,” mentioned Vasilevskiy. “I want my mask to be recognizable. I will not want to transform considerably about it. I’m cozy enjoying with it.
“You will find a huge lion head on my forehead. I appreciate cats and my nickname is ‘The Large Cat,’ so it will make sense. Naturally, I have to have lightning bolts with enjoying for the Lightning. I have the Russian brand with the double-headed eagle on both equally sides, considering the fact that I am Russian. That is about it.”
As Elliott outlined, the backplate of the mask is the very last issue a goaltender sees prior to he normally takes the ice. Very similar to his counterpart, Vasilevskiy’s most vital reminders lie on the backplate of his mask, with the names of his son, Lukas, and his wife, Kseniya, flanking a crucifix set in the center.
When each Lightning netminders will have on chrome masks to wrap up the 2022-23 standard year, the dueling chrome glance was almost nothing far more than coincidence.
“It truly is in fact rather amusing since we ended up just lately speaking about it,” Vasilevskiy said. “I advised him I was heading to be doing chrome on my mask and he was like, ‘Oh yeah? Me way too!’
“So that was rather humorous. His style is really amazing too, so now we’re the two rocking shiny masks.”
For Marsolais, who has been taking part in goaltender for 25 several years, the biggest rewards arrive in the friendships that have been shaped and watching the successes of her consumers.
“It is the finest activity,” reported Marsolais. “It’s been great to be capable to watch them on Television, for certain. Andrei has turn into a excellent good friend to us, since we’ve been performing with him so prolonged.
“When they came here to participate in Montreal, we were being ready to go see them right before morning skate and stuff like that. It is usually good to be capable to chat with them and chat about goalie gear or masks. It can be just been a lot of fun receiving to know them.”
With so a great deal time and energy put in on her enterprise, Marsolais just lately painted her have mask, showcasing a big dragon, some line work, and her selection on the chin, just like Vasilevskiy.
“It took me so prolonged with all of my other customers, but very last summer season I did it,” mentioned Marsolais with a laugh. “It was just basic white for about five several years and all the guys on my crew were being all laughing at me.”
But all superior points acquire time and Marsolais couldn’t be happier with her mask, just like two of her clientele in Elliott and Vasilevskiy couldn’t be happier with theirs.
“You want to be satisfied about it,” Elliott mentioned. “If you happen to be not satisfied with your mask, then you might be going to get a new one particular quite soon.”
Useless to say, that’s never ever been an difficulty with the beautiful get the job done of Sylabrush.