On November 1, 1959, the goalie for the Montreal Canadians, Jacques Plante, was hit in the face by a shot from New York Ranger, Andy Bathgate. Plante was not wearing a mask, which was very common and normal back then. After being stitched up and refusing to play without a mask, Plante returned to the ice, wearing a face hugging mask. This would prove to be a very important moment in hockey history, even though at the time, Plante was actually laughed at for wearing the mask. Many questioned his dedication and his fearlessness. However, as time went on, the goalie mask became accepted and eventually mandatory. Two things goalies realized about the mask, first was the most obvious in that it protected their face and improved their play. Second and most important, they realized they could put some awesome, cool and badass designs on it. Here is a look at 15 of the most incredible hockey goalie masks of all time.
15 Steve Valiquette - Spider-Man
Steve Valiquette is a crime fighter known as Spider-Man…er…was a goalie for the New York Rangers. His goalie mask is one of the most underrated masks, possibly because of his short career. Regardless, the mask is impressive and featured the web slinging Spider-Man.
14 Jonathan Quick - Battle Armour
13 Ed Belfour - The Eagle
Ed Belfour is known for his skills, ability and the fact that he really, really likes eagles. He has played for several teams including, the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers. His goalie mask would feature an eagle on every team he played for. He once said, "I've always liked the eagle as a bird. It is a strong figure representing individuality, leadership, confidence and outstanding vision...." He was soon nicknamed "Eddie the Eagle". His other nickname is "Crazy Eddie", due to his reported off ice antics.
12 Ken Dryden - Montreal Canadians
It's simple, basic and crude, yet it's possibly one of the most horrifying hockey masks of all time. Imagine, skating down the ice with everything a player has left, only to look up and see the eyes of Ken Dryden peering back through that expressionless and terrifying mask. Despite being considered one of the all time great goaltenders, he actually had a short career, playing seven seasons. He won several Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadians and in his first year, 1971, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player.
11 Henrik Lundqvist - Statue Of Liberty
10 Jean Sebastian Giguere - The Yeti
Jean Sebastian Giguere had his greatest success when he played for the Anaheim Ducks. He first joined the team in 2000, and with the Ducks, won the Stanley Cup in 2007. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche with rumours circulating that this might be his final year. He's had many memorable goalie masks, especially from his time with the Ducks. However, nothing can strike fear in the hearts of his enemies like a yeti does. His mask features a yeti, or one could say that he is the yeti and the mask brings that out of him. Either way, a yeti is both terrifying and very cool.
9 Gary Bromley - Bones
Gary Bromley played for both the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks. He's well known for his goalie mask that resembled a skull. He was nicknamed "Bones" after the mask. It's very possible that many opposing team players still have nightmares of the man in the skull mask.
8 James Reimer - Optimus Prime
James Remier plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs and at one point, was one of the most popular players on the team. One of his nicknames is "Optimus Reim", which is a reference to the popular Transformers character, Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime is featured on Reimer's mask/helmet.
7 Patrick Lalime - Marvin The Martian
Patrick Lalime is not only known for his goaltending skills, but also for the creativity he puts into his goalie mask. He played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Buffalo Sabers. Each time his mask featured Looney Tunes character, Marvin The Martian.
6 Brent Johnson - Led Zeppelin
Brent Johnson is the grandson of former NHL great, Sid Abel and son of former NHL goaltender, Bob Johnson. Brent has played for the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins. He's a huge fan of the legendary and iconic English rock band Led Zeppelin. The band has been featured on his goalie mask.
5 Steve Mason - A Team Of Zombies
Steve Mason's goalie mask might be a spoiler for the conclusion of AMC's post-apocalyptic horror series, The Walking Dead. All the zombies join the NHL. Steve Mason currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers and his mask is both scary and very impressive. It features zombie versions of his teammates.
4 Gerry Cheevers - Stitch Pattern
Gerry Cheevers is considered to be one of the greatest goalies of his era. He is best known for his time with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, with Cheevers as their goalie. In 1972, he went undefeated in 32 consecutive games. However, he may be best known for his iconic stitch pattern goalie mask. He was one of the first goalies to put a design on his mask. Each stitch on the mask represents stitches he would have to get if he was not wearing the mask.
3 Peter Budaj - Ned Flanders
2 Jonas Hiller - Movember
1 Gilles Gratton - The Tiger
Gilles Gratton was known for his eccentric personality and outspoken behavior. He played for both the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers in the NHL. He is best known for having one of the scariest and most horrifying goalie masks of all time. He claims he came up with the idea after seeing a picture of a tiger in the National Geographic Magazine. Some hockey players claim that he would growl at his opponents. His mask remains one of the scariest.