Hockey goaltenders have a personality all their own. After all, it takes a pretty unique person to actually want to stand in the way of hundreds of pucks flying toward them every day. One of the perks of minding the net is getting to display some of that character on their masks. Here are some of the very best personalized goalie masks guarding the crease.
Iconic because it marked the importance of face masks as the game of hockey started putting emphasis on player safety, Gerry Cheevers’ 1970 mask was simple but effective. After getting hit in the mask during practice, the trainer insisted on marking the spot on the mask with a black permanent marker. The “stitches” showed where Cheevers would have had real-life repairs to his face if he hadn’t been protected by the mask.
The full bear head that covered the mask of Andy Moog back in the 1990s started an onslaught of animal head designs. Moog chose the design to honor his Boston Bruins as he peered out in between the top and bottom rows of fierce teeth. The San Jose Sharks marked their inaugural season with a very fitting “Jaws” mask of the same style with Brian Hayward’s frame of blood-dripping fangs in the same decade.
The claws come out on the ice, almost literally in the mask of Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, not to be confused with the Capitals’ centerman, Nicklas Backstrom. With swipe marks on the side, this bear claw breaks through the top of the mask to display the wild side of the Wild.
Jimmy Howard’s tribute to the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative holds a special place this year after the loss of Dave Strader, aka, “the Voice.” The lavender mask features a picture of Strader on the back and also pays tribute to Bob Probert and Darren McCarty on the sides.
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers honors the Statue of Liberty on his helmet. The striking red, white and blue colors set off the realistic rendition of the New York and American icon.
And finally, with the addition of the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL this year, Marc-Andre Fleury’s helmet is a stunning tribute to the city that never sleeps. The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign emblazons the left side with a metallic golden knight wielding a shield against opponents. On the other side, another golden knight defends the team from atop a black stallion.
What other goalie masks should make the list? Put them in the comments to keep the chirping alive.
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