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.
That isn’t to discount some of the incredible works of art from the 60s, 70s and 80s, but just to keep the focus on a smaller group. I won’t leave out the league’s golden age as the masks of Giles Gratton, Murray Bannerman, Gary Bromley, Gerry Cheevers and Gilles Meloche are worthy of their rightful place as some of the most beautiful masks of all time. Continue reading