HERSHEY, PA – Semyon Varlamov took the ice at Giant Center on Veterans’ Day and he did so wearing his new goalie mask, which boasts a prominent American theme. It features a Bald Eagle and an American flag on one side and the Capital dome and the likeness of George Washington on the reverse side.
The top has the word “Caps” and the while the chin features Varlamov’s nickname “Varly” along with the Russian and American flags.
The mask arrived from an artist in Sweden two days ago and was designed by Varlamov himself. “Lots of new stuff on my mask,” he said. “Pretty cool design.”
Varlamov, who is on assignment with the AHL’s Hershey Bears after missing 12 games this season with a lower body injury, said that he is ready to get back into action. “I feel good, strong and ready to go.
Capitals goalie coach Arturs Irbe, who was in Hershey with Varlamov, agrees that the goalie is on the comeback trail and said he could play in a few days. “He is getting there. We are looking at this weekend, most likely Sunday.” he said. “Probably he will get something else, another game or two and then off he goes.”
But Irbe insists that Varlamov shouldn’t push it. “He is there, but you have to be cautious,” he said. “He is also learning: when you feel good and being healthy are two different things. You have to be able to withstand 60 minutes.”
While Varlamov would prefer to lace up his skates in Washington his time in Hershey has brought back fond memories. “It is an excellent organization,” he said. “Lots of good memories. Lots of guys here, my friends. I like this town. Best fans in the league.”
Varlamov’s injury has been hard on the 22 year-old Samara, Russia native. “It is pretty tough for me right now,” he said. “I want to play a lot,” he said. But he determined to do everything he can to get back. “I think it is going to be better, everything is going to be better.”
Photos of Varlamov’s practice today including close ups of the mask: