Within the general pool of hockey fans there are several subsets, including those who are into gear used and worn by the players. For all the goalie gurus out there — or even just the general hockey fashionistas — we proudly present to you the ongoing case file of Garrett Sparks.
Originally signed by the Kings in July to a one-year, league minimum contract, he was brought in to be the veteran backup in Ontario; a role commonly referred to as the third-goalie. If Cal Petersen or Jonathan Quick needed to be spelled for any reason, from a single night to several weeks, Sparks will be called into action. Beyond that, he’ll be fighting for playing time in the AHL.
It’s a role Troy Grosenick was in last season. However, he was limited to only four games played with the Reign largely due to the one-off use of taxi squads, the NHL’s attempt to minimize disruption of scheduled games due to the pandemic.
In many ways, the signing of Sparks speaks more to the subpar goaltending in Ontario last season than anything else. For example, if Matt Villalta would have put up better numbers — truly taking over the crease left behind by Cal Petersen’s assentation to the NHL in early 2020 — maybe he would have earned more confidence from LA management. Maybe he’d be viewed as the third goalie instead of now trying to fend off Jacob Ingham from possibly taking over in Ontario at some point this season.
That’s not why we’re here, though.
Let’s get back on track.
Sparks caught the attention of people early on with his unique pads.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 27, 2021
Come to find out, those houndstooth / 1980s video game looking pads were actually just some old ones he had lying around from one of his previous stops.
And, if you really want to go down a rabbit hole, Sparks has had many, many places to call home since turning pro in 2013 — including in the ECHL (Orlando Solar Bears), AHL (Toronto Marlies), and NHL (Vegas Golden Knights).
Truth be told, he had some pretty sharp looking pads when he played a few game for VGK during the 2019-20 season. They featured some lightning bolts in the VGK colors.
Again, we digress.
Soon after the (perhaps) Galaga-inspired pads were being talked about in some Kings circles, Sparks broke out the new pads that he’ll allegedly wear this season. They’re basically a white-on-white checkerboard design.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 29, 2021
All of this build up can only be leading to one thing — what is the mask going to look like?
Monday night in Anaheim, the wait was over.
For those scoring at home, Sparks started the game for Ontario and only played the first period. However, according to AHL stats, he was given credit for 40 minutes of playing time vs. San Diego. All is forgiven, though, it’s preseason for everybody.
More importantly, we have some mask related notes.
At first glance, one might think the mask (down around the chin area) is paying tribute to former Kings goalie Felix Potvin. A little further investigation says that’s not the case. According to Sparks, the mask is actually paying tribute to Charlestown Chiefs goalie Denis Lemieux from “Slap Shot,” everybody’s favorite hockey movie.
As for some of the other elements used, Sparks also celebrates the late Tony Esposito on the backplate of his new mask. He passed away this summer and is a legend in Chicago, having tended goal for 15 years with the Blackhawks. Sparks was born in Elmhurst, Illinois.
One of other elements woven into the design include a keyhole design (on the side, behind the ears) from an album titled The Ineffable Truth by DJ G Jones. Sparks also features a griffin (lion) from the Kings 2000-era jerseys near the cheek area on each side.
Action photos provided via Dinur Blum
Other still shots provided by Ontario Reign PR
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