NHL goaltenders have the unique ability to display their creative and artistic sides through their masks. A goalie's creativity and individuality can be put on display perhaps moreso than any other position in professional sports. Since the Colorado Avalanche's inception in 1995, many goaltenders have tended goal for the Burgundy and Blue and have featured a variety of designs, themes and even their own personal touches on their masks. Here are my top 5 of all-time. I was influenced somewhat by the players whose masks they are, but I primarily wanted to focus on aesthetics.
When he came to the Avs via trade late in 1995, Patrick Roy had his mask designed, fittingly, to look like an avalanche. The theme is very simple and it features the Avs' burgundy and blue colors in the background and has Roy's #33 on the chin. Although Stephane Fiset and Jocelyn Thibault were in goal before Roy's arrival, this was pretty much the mask that got it all started for the Avs and was immortalized when Roy and the Avs went on to win the Stanley Cup that same season.
Peter Budaj was pretty much the first Avalanche goalie who changed the designs of his mask up every season. Budaj probably had the most outside-the-box masks as some of his featured Altair, the character from the video game Assassin's Creed, Marvel Comics superhero The Hulk (who was made red to better fit in with the Avs' colors), and motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi. The one constant on Budaj's masks was the depiction of Simpson character Ned Flanders on the back due to Budaj's strong Christian faith (and this was several years before Tim Tebow even arrived in Denver!). Boods does lose points despite his creativity, simply because a lot of these themes do not relate to the Avs.
In his later years in Montreal and in Colorado, Jose Theodore has featured gargoyles on his masks. A pretty cool theme and an apropos one for a goaltender. The reasoning is that gargoyles protect cities and goalies protect the nets. I like the silver background of Theo's mask and the icicles hanging from the gargoyles. The alternate foot logo is on the chin of the mask.
Semyon Varlamov's mask has a lot going on and that's what makes it great. At first glance, it appears to be a large Avalanche logo on top, with a lot of snow surrounding it. However, at a closer look, there are two creatures battling each other. The first is a yeti with a "snowball bazooka" and the other is a snowman with a "carrot bazooka." Good stuff! His nickname, "Varly" is also on the chin.
At the beginning of the 2000-2001 season, Patrick Roy begin sporting a new mask. This mask was primarily silver and featured anthropomorphic burgundy mountains on each side spewing snow like an avalanche. I like everything about this mask. I like the silver background, the mountains, the colors and of course the fact that the Avs won the Cup after Roy switched to it. There you have it!
I would also give an honorable mention to David Aebischer's yeti mask.