Cam Ward's goalie mask says a lot about him as a hockey player, but also as a person, a husband and father.
The Carolina Hurricanes logo and his nickname - "WARDO" - are prominently displayed on his mask. But take a closer look.
"One of themes that has stuck with me through the years is the Blackbeard pirate," Ward said.
It seems former Canes defenseman Glen Wesley gave Ward the idea of putting that on the mask. But why Blackbeard?
"Because of the North Carolina coast, of being new to North Carolina and not really having an understanding of North Carolina history," Ward said.
A Maple Leaf also is "ghosted" in. He is proud of his Canadian background and heritage.
One change this year is a white base and a white cage. Less glare than the chrome, he said. Italso matches his lighter gear.
But the backplate of the mask - which was made by Sportmask and airbrushed and illustrated by artist Steve Nash of Eyecandyair in Toronto - is, in Ward's words, more personal.
There's a cross, a symbol of a deep, strong faith. There are the initials F.W., a tribute to his late grandfather, Frank Ward. There are the names of his wife, son and daughter.
There also is what appears to be a small, handwritten note. It's from Ward's son, Nolan, and says simply. "I love Dad."
To cap it off, Ward has what has long been his personal motto: "Have fun."
The past few years have not been fun for Ward. There were injuries, losses, a coaching change and rumors that he might be traded by the Hurricanes.
That's all behind him now. Ward, 30, seems to be a man at peace. There has been a change in his demeanor and more recently a change in his play as the Canes rebounded from a struggling start to win the past three games.
"One of the biggest things for me is to be more relaxed and more calm," Ward said Thursday. "Early on you're excited for the start of the season and kind of amp yourself up. When you get too amped up at the goalie position, for me, I get a little too antsy.
"These last three games I feel I have been real calm and poised and playing with a lot more flow. I've always said I play my best when I'm not thinking at all, just going out and playing."
Ward had 25 saves in a 3-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, the Canes' first victory of the season. The next day, he had 30 stops in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Back in net on Tuesday, Ward faced just 19 shots against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets scored on a first-period power play and then late in regulation, but Ward made all the key stops in a 4-2 road victory to improve his record to 3-3-1.
"Cam's been spectacular for us," forward Patrick Dwyer said. "That's the Cam of two or three years ago that steals hockey games for us with timely saves, huge saves at the right time in the game."
Canes coach Bill Peters said in preseason he'd like to see either Ward or Anton Khudobin emerge as a clear-cut No. 1 goalie. Ward has been doing that.
"Wardo is an experienced guy who probably wanted to make an impression early and probably tried too hard," Peters said. "That would be fair, saying that. But he has settled into a nice groove now."
Peters said Ward will make his fifth consecutive start Friday as the Canes (3-6-2) and Blue Jackets (4-8-0) face off again at PNC Arena in what could be another bruising, physical game.
The Canes (3-6-2) could have forward Jiri Tlusty in the lineup. Tlusty took a blow to the head Tuesday from Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson, who has been suspended three games by the NHL, but was able to practice Thursday and said he has experienced no concussion symptoms.
Ward doesn't speak to the media on game days when he's playing, a goalie ritual, but has been friendly and approachable since returning from what he said was a refreshing, invigorating summer with his family.
"I'm very fortunate to be playing a game for a living," Ward said. "For me, it was getting back to realizing that it's just a game, and to enjoy it and have some fun with it."