LA Kings goaltending prospect Matt Villalta has tried to keep things light over the past few years. Specifically, he’s featured various cartoon characters on his mask, including SpongeBob and Fred Flintstone.
Last year, things took an interesting twist. When he switched masks for the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, Villalta was wearing a different look. He had a wrap put on his mask that honored Bruins legend Eddie Cheevers. His “stitches” mask is one of the most legendary designs in hockey history.
The intimidating stylings offered quite the contrast to Villalta’s usual light-hearted livery. However, if you snuck around the backside of the mask, he still had several familiar cartoon images – true to form.
Many figured it was just a one-off thing at the time; expecting him to have a more traditional Kings/Reign-themed mask come Training Camp. Yet, that never materialized. He’s still been rocking the Cheevers mask of late.
That’s all about the change. As Mayor’s Manor editor John Hoven first reported on Tuesday night, Villalta has just received his new mask for this season… and he’s taking things to a whole new level.
After visiting Disney’s California Adventure recently (with his usual sidekick and fellow cartoon fanatic, Gabe Vilardi), Villalta was inspired during his time spent in Radiator Springs. With that in mind, he worked with his mask designer and now he’s ready to break out a new mask, loaded with images from the Cars movie franchise – including Lightning McQueen’s buddies: Mater, Red, and Rusty.
The Villalta – Vilardi friendship extends beyond just their mutual appreciation for SpongeBob too.
The Villalta-Vilardi friendship has been tight for years, including Matty signing off on Gabe's goal song selection when 13 first heard it.
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) March 14, 2022
Little back story:
When Vilardi arrived in Ontario this yr, told me he didn't have a goal song yet. I said, your homework assignment is to pick one. This went on for over a month. Finally, said he was hanging w/ Villalta, they heard it on the radio and he said- "That's the one!" https://t.co/pM1QbtM8iS
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) August 2, 2020
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