It’s taken a little longer than usual due to the late-November launch of the Sabres alternate jersey but all the different sets of gear worn by Buffalo’s goaltenders have now seen the ice (with the exception of Eric Comrie’s black and red setup).
The black and red uniforms offer a great shift for the team’s netminders, providing a drastically different look for each when the team wears their new third jersey. Perhaps we will see more mask art or pads for the team’s Reverse Retro jerseys, but for now each goalie has sported two different sets on the year. It offers a great variety of looks and there’s a similar collection of mask art to admire. I’ve included Rochester’s goaltenders in the mix as well since more gear is always more fun.
Redesigns over these last seven years have been somewhat minimal, with many teams returning to former designs as opposed taking on new looks. But Adidas has left their mark on the league’s alternate jerseys. Pushing boundaries with the designs in Dallas and Edmonton and finding the right mix of heritage and contemporary design with Winnipeg’s (sadly) short-lived Jets script alternate.
Arguably the biggest impact we’ve seen from Adidas is the Reverse Retro program. The new take on alternate jerseys has brought about a raft of excellent and nostalgic uniforms and is a fairly sharp derivation from the typically conservative NHL. Whether the program continues after Adidas departs is a pretty big question from both an aesthetic and revenue perspective.
Noah Ennis, goal mask artist and owner of Shell Shock Paint joins the show for an expansive conversation about goalie mask art and the pro clients Noah works with. New Sabres goalie Eric Comrie is among the roster of pro clients Ennis works with in addition to the Anaheim Ducks’ Lukas Dostal, John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz, Laurent Brossoit of the Vegas Golden Knights and many other NHL and AHL netminders. Our conversation covered some of the finer details of working with NHL goalies on mask designs and the trends and innovations within the wider industry. Noah’s work can be found online at shellshockpaint.com or on Instagram @shellshockco.
Matt Keeler and Nick Ciavarella of JustDishin join the show to discuss SkateSkins and the product’s introduction into the NHL. They also offer some tremendous insight into the intersection of hockey and fashion and how that evolution has the ability to move the sport forward on a number of levels. This wide ranging conversation touches on a number of intriguing topics, including the latest from JustDishin and SkateSkins, a product that made a huge splash in the NHL last week.
Another season is winding down and the future in net for the Sabres is up in the air once again. That’s exciting for a few reasons. First and foremost, the opportunity to improve in net opens the door for the Sabres to take a big step back to respectability as they work through this rebuild.
Second, and most importantly, a new goalie (or goalies) means new goalie gear.
Thanks to the Sabres rich history in goal, there have been buckets of goalies whose mask design or gear choices have been terrific. With the 2021-22 NHL season ready to wrap up, it felt like a good time to look back at 10 of the best sets of goalie gear in Sabres history.
You’ll notice that no one from the era of vintage pads did not make the cut. That’s simply because vintage pads are quite ambiguous. There’s nothing that really sets Roger Crozier apart from Gerry Desjardins or Gary Bromley besides their masks (and we’ve already ranked those). Those terrific vintage sets all have their place in history, but when it comes to the best looks in team history, they can’t compare to the way more modern pads pop with different color combinations.
This isn’t a ranking so much as a collection of the sets I feel look the best. So, the list isn’t in any particular order. Though I did save the best for last.
What number you wear can often be a big part of a player’s hockey identity. Some players care more than others about the number they don, but even for those who are indifferent to them, those numbers help connect players with young fans and can even have sentimental value. Like it or not, numbers are a big part of what can make this game great.
Of course, some numbers are better than others. This is especially true in hockey where the history of certain numbers carries with it a certain folklore that others lack. Think of Vladislav Tretiak and his disciples wearing 20 in the crease or how number 19 became synonymous with Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada. Hockey numbers are part of the sport’s lore and the good ones deserved to be honored.
It was a great pleasure to have Chris Creamer and Todd Radom join the podcast to discuss their new book Fabric of the Game. It’s a tremendous book that details the history of the jerseys and logos of the NHL. Todd and Chris discuss the impetus for the book, the countless hours of research it took to compile some of the incredible stories in the book and some of their favorite bits of the text. We also talk about their personal favorite aspects of uniform design and the NHL’s Reverse Retro line.
Goalie masks hold a unique place in sporting culture. Few sports provide any outlet for personal expression in the way masks do. It’s an excellent feature and I can tie my own personal desire to play goal to an attraction to the myriad masks I’d inspect on my hockey card collection.
There are a million and one awesome masks out there and a simple Google search will yield you endless rankings and top ten lists from half the writers on THW or Bardown. To avoid plaguing the internet with another goalie mask ranking, I’m going to try a slightly different approach. Cataloging some of the most iconic masks of the modern era while sprinkling in some of my personal favorites along the way.
When I say modern era I’m thinking strictly from the perspective of the history of goaltending. So most of my attention is being directed to masks designed and worn from the late 1980s on. My loose definition of the modern era of goaltending is when most of the league’s goalies had transitioned away from the old fully molded masks and had begun to transition away from helmet and cage combos towards the modern masks we are familiar with today.
Goalie Gear Nerd, one of my favorite follows on social media, joined the show for the second time so we could run through some of the latest news and innovations in goal equipment. We speak about his new website http://www.goaliegearnerd.com and also spoke about David Ayres and the NHL’s emergency backup goalie system and what changes, if any, would need to be made to it.
A brand new Instigator Interview comes your way, featuring Joe Messina of Second String Leather Company. Second String Leather is a new hockey lifestyle brand that crafts unique leather goods from old goalie equipment. I really enjoyed my discussion with him that hit on a wide range of topics including how social media helped expose his company to more hockey players, the process they use to pick out gear and manufacture their goods and we even touched on some of the other goalie products he’s created such as Masked Marvel masks and Edge Protech.
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