Some pro-level protective masks are really cool, such as the Bauer NME 9 (a certified cat eye titanium goalie mask). The NME 9 features an innovative lightweight carbon and aramid fiber construction, with a Quad-density, gel infused liner. It’s badass because it has a certified cat-eye cage, which kind of looks like an angry spider web. The NME 9 is cool, as are a number of other pro-level masks available from Goalie Monkey and other online vendors
Well-designed masks are perfect for the majority of hockey players, but to some they are merely the blank canvas for a more creative undertaking.
The Many Masks of Ilya Bryzgalov
Minnesota Wild goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, has a mask for every occasion. For the 2012 Winter Classic (a game he didn’t even play in), Bryzgalov paid tribute to Philadelphia by sporting a mask to honor the city’s sports teams. It depicted the 76ers, Flyers, Eagles, Phillies, as well as some cool art featuring the city’s beloved Phillie Phanatic.
He’s also created helmets that time-honor classics, such as Daffy Duck and Star Wars. Unfortunately for Bryzgalov, Lucasfilm did not appreciate the original colors used in his Star Wars tribute. The movie studio forced Bryzgalov to recolor Yoda to reflect more green, and less hues of orange and red. In Bryzgalov’s defense, he wasn’t attempting to suggest Yoda had switched to the dark side, but rather that Yoda is a Philadelphia Flyers fan.
Ricky Di Shows his Patriotism
Rick DiPietro is a true patriot, who sometimes takes to the ice in a decked-out helmet featuring American soldiers, stars and stripes, the American flag, and even an Apache helicopter. His badass, all-American design ranks supreme among art-lovers and true American patriots. One thing is for sure: Ricky D isn’t afraid to show these colors don’t run when he tends goal for the New York Islanders.
Marc-Andre Fleury Pays Homage to the Penguins
Many NHL players have paid tribute to Iceburg on their masks. Iceburg is the iconic mascot of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he’s although he’s changed a lot through the years, he remains an inspiration to fans and the team. In tribute, Dany Sabourin once decorated his helmet with an older version of Iceburg; a character folksy and cartoonish. Although Sabourin’s helmet is a cool homage to the character, it doesn’t hold a candle to Marc-Andre Fleury’s fiercely modern Iceburg. The character bursts from an igloo, and grimaces at any who dare look him in the eye. Fleury’s mask sends a message to would-be shooters: You’re not getting through here.
Some Pay Tributes; Others are Just Weird
Not all masks honor something…Some are just random, weird, and confusing. For instance, Gary Simmons (The Golden Seals 76 – 77) played games sporting a very random dragon (or is it a snake?) on his mask. If Simmons thought the green dragon would scare his opponents, he was wrong. However, if he was going for confusion, it’s likely he got what he was after. Is it a snake or a dragon? Gerry “Cheesy” Cheevers painted stiches on his mask, and wore it for 20 seasons. The mask is hardly the huge, caged masks goalies are asked to wear today. Rather, it’s more like the mask worn by Jason Voorhees in the movie Friday the 13th.
For ages hockey players have been adoring their masks with painted designs – sometimes to intimidate… sometimes to pay tribute… sometimes there’s no explanation for the weirdness… It’s a trend no one wants to see end because it shows the loyalties and personalities of the men behind the mask. This isn’t just the habit of the pros. For all you hockey hobbyists out there, you can get creative. If you’re not satisfied with a mundane helmet, there’s always puffy paint…