There is no single piece of sporting equipment that even comes close to offering the diversity, personality and delineation of an athlete’s character that an NHL goaltender’s mask does.
How fitting then, that gear that so steadily protects its owners’ skull, does an equally excellent job of displaying some of the most artistic thoughtfulness of which the human brain is capable. Of course, there is artwork in the known world that eclipses that of what you see on a goalie mask, but as far as the sports world is concerned, nothing else even comes close.
Everyone loves to get an up-close look at the masks worn by these men. Masks that are as bold as those who wear them are brave always tell a story, and some better than others.
This list is meant to be a ranking which is based on artistic appeal, personality and originality. Please feel free to throw your hat into the ring and call me out on whom I missed or who was more deserving of a spot in the top five.
Regardless of the ranking, these are ten of the most intriguing and aesthetic mask designs in the game today.
The Winnipeg Jets' aim to incorporate the Royal Canadian Air Force into their logo and jersey design didn't disappoint.
Not to be outdone, Pavelec's mask does as excellent job of incorporating them as well.
Probably the most noticeable aspect is the A-10 decal on the chin of the mask, with silver wings on either side and the Jets' logo on top to complement it.
Bobrovsky's mask showcases both American and Russian fighter jets on the left side as well as both countries' flags on the back.This is a slight deviation from his previous mask where the jets were on opposite sides.
Having them both on one side leaves room for a Flyers logo on the right, which is shown on top of a brick wall with a spray painted version of Bobrovsky's nickname.
The Anaheim Ducks' Dan Ellis incorporates both the new and old look logos into his helmet, with a classic "Mighty Duck" shield on the left, and the new webbed "D" on the right.
Completing the look are two cartoon styled monstrous looking ducks on either side, one yielding a chainsaw.
The centerpiece of the mask is made up of a vertical zipper with the old Might Ducks' alternate logo coming out of the background. This mask has a lot of life and represents almost every era of the Anaheim Ducks' franchise.
Here's a closer look from goaliestore.com.
Ward scores big style points for a scary looking pirate on the right side of an already great looking red and silver based design.
The storm at the center of his mask is a hurricane shape unlike the familiar 'Canes logo. However, the Hurricane's team crest is also located directly below the pirate.
Click here for a closer look at the pirate.
Dipietro's mask is all about his Dad, who served in Vietnam. Though the one pictured here is a later version, his new one is similar in style.
The new mask (showcased here) richly depicts the helicopters that were used so often during the conflict, as well as bullets, soldiers, and a Prisoner of War logo in the same spot of the mask shown here.
American flags are positioned similarly, giving this mask an excellent historical element and the personal touch of being dedicated to the athlete's family member.
Casey Jones in a Blues jersey on the side is intimidating and breaks away from an expected musical theme.
The addition of the moose above an Ontario vanity plate with the letters "MRMOOSE" is a nifty shout out to Elliot's home province in Canada, and his rumored ability to be an excellent moose caller.
Here's a closer look at the mask.
Any Nashville goaltender has a great concept to work with as a member of the Predators.
Rinne takes full advantage with a mask donning a formidable carnivorous creature. Hiding the animal partly behind an old time goalie mask not only adds a touch of mystery, but offers a nod to a historic time period before the masks worn would become a staple to our collection of Halloween costumes.
Here's a closer look.
Jimmy Howard's mask captures the culture of Detroit with a backdrop of the city and a Ford Mustang on the right side, as well as the retired numbers of legendary Red Wing hockey players.
However, the most compelling and significant addition to this mask is the back plate with a tribute to the players who died in the Lokomotiv plane crash, some of which had been involved with the Red Wings' organization.
Jimmy talks about the mask and showcases the back plate here.
Thomas' mask is a bright (and loud) silver color with the outlining pattern of a bear, on top of a black background. This is all very pronounced, and complimenting of the yellow on the Bruins jersey.
The content of the mask is perhaps even louder than the color. Thomas sports an eagle crested silver dollar with the words "In God We Trust" on the front of his mask, with an American flag shield and a serpent on the back above the words "Don't Tread on Me."
Check here for a look at both sides of the mask.
James Reimer's mask is one of the most intriguing as it boasts a heavy dose of personal and original content.
In a nod to Reimer's childhood memory of watching Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry and Ron Maclean grace the right side of the Maple Leafs' logo. Continuing the theme is the left side of the mask which showcases Reimer as a child playing pond hockey.
James works his Christian faith into this design on the back plate with an artistic rendition of Jesus lifting the apostle Peter out of the water. Back for a second go around is the beloved "Optimus Reim" logo right above the centered maple leaf.
Different details and angles of this mask are showcased here.