There is no position in sports with more artistic freedom than that of the NHL goaltender. Not only does each goalie have a distinct style of play, but they also have their own distinct style.
History suggests that in 1927, Queen’s University goaltender Elizabeth Graham became the first hockey goalie ever to wear a mask. Graham used a fencing mask so that she could protect her teeth.
It took 32 more years for an NHL goaltender to wear a mask full-time. After being struck in the grill by a shot from Andy Bathgate, Canadiens’ goaltender Jacques Plante refused to go back in the game until head coach Toe Blake allowed him to wear a mask. Blake had to oblige since the team did not have a back-up goaltender.
Plante’s legacy is still felt today as goaltender masks have become a hockey icon. Today each goalie’s mask grows to become a part of their persona — wearing a bit of themselves on their helmet.
Some goalies are heavily involved in the process of coming up with a design, while others let the artists do their thing.
Let us take a look at some of the best masks you’ll be seeing during the 2013-14 season. Thanks to In Goal Magazine for the pictures.