Goalies are generally different than their free-roaming teammates. They're the only members of the team to stay on the ice for the entire game, and also think about the game much differently. They think of angles, reflexes, and goofy stuff to put on their mask for millions of people to see.
Speaking of masks, it's quite insane that these guys didn't wear them at one point. For decades even! What was the argument against it? Because it restricts vision? You know what else restricts vision? Having your EYE knocked out by a puck!
Jacques Plante was ironically considered a coward for having the courage to buck the trend and put a damn mask on. After he got a puck to his bare face and got stitched up he told the coach it was the mask or nothing. Since they didn't even have backup goalies back then, he had the upper-hand and was allowed to cover up.
Gerry Cheevers took it one step further in the 70s by having the trainer paint stitches on the mask wherever a puck struck. This was a terrifying reminder of how idiotic it was to shun masks before.
Revolutionary Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak popularized the helmet-cage hybrid that Hasek and Osgood wore. This eventually evolved into the larger versions that are used today.
But even though every goalie wears the same type of mask, they mostly look quite different. It's so common to airbrush a design that masks without it are the exception. Sometimes these look incredible, showcasing the goaltenders' personality or the heritage of the team. But more often they're a busy, glossy mess. The artist and goalie take the kitchen sink method, including every nickname and symbol they can think of. These are the masks we will be looking at today.
So let's take a look at the most god-awful ugly masks that a goalie and artist once thought looked 'pretty cool'.
15 Scott Clemmensen - Florida Panthers, 2013-14
I’m all for masks that make use of panther imagery, but it works a lot better if they’re ferocious. I want to see snarling teeth and a roar that suggests ripping the other team to shreds in a powerful, efficient manner.
This one didn’t quite nail ferocious. From the side the eyes look narrowed and lethal but from the front it looks downright goofy. The eyes are too close together and look more confused rather than predatory. A confused, goofy, panther with it’s mouth hanging open and no top teeth isn’t going to scare anyone.
14 Rick DiPietro - Millions of Stars
The American flag uses 50 stars to represent its 50 states. It makes logical sense and the result is a nice looking flag.
DiPietro is obviously playing the patriot card with soldiers and actual flags adorning the helmet, but the number of stars vomited on the front is downright nauseating.
The only way this makes sense is if every star represents one of the many injuries he's sustained during his very unlucky career.
13 Martin Gerber - Darth Vader
I don't know how you can take the most badass villain of all time and make him look bland and lame but they did it.
First off Darth Vader's mask is dark black because he is evil and awesome. This mask however has far too much silver-grey artificial light sheen that makes it look more like a steaming pile of bandaid soup.
Oh Gerber, if you only knew the power of the Dark Side.
12 Carey Price - Flamin' Habs
The reason this mask lacks any tie to Price or the historical Habs is that he gave the new artist zero input and just let him "do his thing".
Why the hell are there flames on this mask? Is this referencing when the fans rioted in Montreal? Is it the stereotypical 'fiery' persona of a Montreal hockey fan?
You know why this was a bad idea? It's because there's already a team in the NHL with a flaming C!
The color scheme is nice, just ditch the generic mudflap design and try again.
11 Curtis Sanford - Sandman
If this horrifying image of the sandman is what puts you to sleep, I hope you like nightmares.
Why are his eyes solid blood red? Why does he have a huge gap in-between his fangs? Why fangs at all?
I'll give it half-marks for being somewhat terrifying, but by the looks of him, the Sandman is probably about 130 years old, blind, and missing a few teeth. I feel bad for him. I want to give him some creamed corn and get him on the wait list for cataract surgery.
Oh don't forget the snow globe terrain with a twinkling star on his chin. That'll make shooters think twice.
10 Sarah Palin - Herself
Frank Cipra has been designing goalie masks since 1980!
This might be his most divisive mask however. Bob Naegele, former owner of the Minnesota Wild had this political piece commissioned in order to gift it to the plucky politician.
Although I think Sarah Palin has a strange hotness, this mask is most definitely not.
The Alaskan landscape where her stomach would be also looks like a photo taken from the surface of the moon. We know it isn't because of the glaring Big Dipper Constellation next to the actual moon that has a censored bar covering up it's bottom section?
What is going on?!
9 Roberto Luongo - Dirty Snow
Ugh, why does the snow on this mask look like it came from the corner of a parking lot? Did it get left at the bottom of a wet hockey bag over the summer?
When snow first falls it's beautiful. Pristine, pure white, blanketing the land and signaling the depths of hockey season. But when snow has sat on the roads for a few days and takes on the colors of dirt and pollution it's downright ugly.
To make matters worse, the smoker's yellow clashes badly with whatever color jersey he happens to be wearing that night.
It could be strategic. If you had to look at the color of bile on a breakaway you might just throw up before you get your shot off.
8 John Vanbiesbrouck - Flyers Cyclone
This one actually looks really great when you're on acid, or so we've heard. Just follow the black swirl until you get the to red dimensional portal for a killer time.
I'm assuming this is the classic Flyers logo given the EXTREME 90s treatment! "These aren't your dad's Flyers!". No they weren't, since the 70s teams actually won Stanley Cups.
Does the logo unravel to signify how the team falls apart in the playoffs? Because then I totally get it.
7 Evgeni Nabokov - Skele-crap
The San Jose Sharks have the easiest logo to work with when it comes to creating a scary looking mask. JAWS mouth and done.
Instead the artist went with a chubby partial skeleton (big-boned?) monster who still has skin on his fat little hands. His eyes glow like someone stuck a candle up his butt and to be honest, he looks a litttttllee bit drunk.
And then they still throw a shark with more gums than teeth on the bottom and his lame nickname that makes him sound like a giant baby.
6 Kari Lehtonen - Kill Bill Cartoon
Hey I love Quentin Tarantino movies, but this looks more like Disney's Mulan. What's with the cartoony look and wishy-washy sky? This looks like it belongs on those giant comic shirts worn by people who used to get beat up by hockey players. Maybe that's why he always wore the extra goalie padding growing up?
Also, did you happen to tell the L.A. Kings that you stole their Crown? Why don't you add a Maple Leaf while you're at it.
5 Marc-Andre Fleury - Wall Penguin
A wall is the best you could come up with?
Oh I get it, he's been bashing his head against the wall trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Final, and he's finally breaking through; metaphorically at least.
His 'flower wearing a Jacques Plante mask' may be extremely creepy and look more like an evil mummy, but it's still a million times better than this bland affair.
4 Nikolai Khabibulin - Eagle/Bulin Wall
When I first saw the eagle-with-meth-mouth on his Chicago mask I thought it must have something to do with Native American imagery, but apparently he's been rocking that ugly bird since his Stanley Cup days in Tamapa.
He's quite fond of his nicknames too. While the 'Builin Wall' is relatively clever for hockey, 'habby' is as generic as it gets and definitely doesn't need to be painted on anything, anywhere, at anytime.
3 Olaf Kolzig - Mecha Godzilla
Kolzig's original Godzilla mask was just fine. It somewhat looked like the famous film monster and its simple design was easy on the eyes.
Then came Mecha-Godzilla and everything got weird. Instead of 100% of the mask real estate depicting the creature, half of it was an important Washington building with a red sky (how romantic).
In the middle of all the visual chaos, Mecha-Godzilla is looking straight ahead yet blowing blue flame off to the side. Does that happen when he goes to the bathroom too?
Olaf had this to say:
“Sometimes masks can be a little too detailed. They’re tough to pick up on camera, but when you see them up close, you go “Wow! That’s pretty cool”.
He's right about the 'too detailed' part, but he's wrong if he thinks 'that's pretty cool'.
2 J.S. Giguere - Robo Chicken
Naming a professional sports team after a Disney movie seemed like a bad idea then, and it seemed like the franchise agreed when they dropped the 'Mighty' from their name years later.
Should they have taken a page from Giguere's book and called them the Anaheim Robo Ducks? He seemed to like the idea.
I have to admit, the 'organic' half is as badass as a duck has ever looked. In fact it looks so tough that the more cartoony robo side is dragging it down.
But that brings us to the first point of why is there a half rob-chicken on his mask to begin with?!
1 Jamie McLennan - Nickelback.....seriously?
Jamie McLennan has a history of lame rock masks celebrating crap bands like KISS and the infamous Nickelback.
McLennan is so into the big N that even if the mask's imagery has nothing to do with the terrible band he makes sure their name is still very prominent. Do they sponsor him? Did he lose a bet?
The worst part is that I had to type 'Nickelback' into a Google image search. This meant seeing Chad Kroeger's face and even worse is that Google will probably start showing me ads for their latest 'music' album.