Ranking the 10 Coolest Goalie Masks in the NHL in 2013-14
- Players are allowed to fight.
- Goalies are allowed to have cool and personalized masks.
Few things symbolize the unique culture of hockey like goalie masks. Even the most casual of casual observers know at least two things about the sport:
It's a unique touch in a sports world where uniformity is stressed and sticking out as an individual is frowned upon. Forwards aren't allowed to slap stickers or paint on their helmets. They aren't even allowed to wear tinted visors. Defenders can't stencil flames on their hockey socks if they want to.
Goalies though? The league says, "Have at it." We suppose that's the least the NHL could do considering that these masked men stop vulcanized, frozen rubber pucks for a living.
The process of selecting the top 10 masks was meticulous. We viewed every single mask for every single NHL goaltender for the 2013-14 season and made an initial list of the top 20. We then walked away from that first set of masks and let the forgettable ones fade while the truly outstanding stood out.
We returned to the paper and selected the masks that we could recall because of how unique or cool they were. Not the most scientific of methods, but this is a pretty arbitrary list to begin with. If you think we missed one, sound off the in the comments.
Tell us the story of why you think that a particular mask should or shouldn't be here.
10. Jason LaBarbera: Edmonton Oilers
Jason LaBarbera hasn't exactly had a breakout season with the Edmonton Oilers and has only started four games, but that doesn't mean his mask isn't one of the most original and revealing in the league.
One side features James Hetfield, who some of you may know as the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for arguably the biggest metal band of all time, Metallica. The other side?
Well, that's CM Punk of the WWE.
According to the lovingly kept and updated Blogspot I Love Goalies, Punk called out LaBarbera and artist David Arrigo over Twitter and demanded to be included on the new helmet. Talk about a pipe bomb.
LaBarbera clearly obliged, and the result is interesting, to say the least.
9. Jonathan Quick: Los Angeles Kings
This list is populated with goalies who let their personalty and attitude shine through on their masks. There's something to be said about allowing the helmet to be part of the uniform, though, and no one does that better than Jonathan Quick.
The concept is simple yet clear. The netminder selected a knight's helmet theme, and it goes along perfectly with the black and silver uniforms of the Los Angeles Kings.
It's not the flashiest, but you can recognize Quick out on the ice from the nosebleeds at the Staples Center.
8. Martin Brodeur: New Jersey Devils
From a distance, Martin Brodeur's mask appears to be the same as it's always been. The New Jersey Devil emblem is still front and center on the design, and the color scheme is still red and black. For the 2013-14 campaign, the 40-year-old veteran tacked on two unique twists to his usual helmet.
According to In Goal Magazine, Brodeur added his two dogs to the sides of his mask this season, and who doesn't love dogs at least a little?
Here's the kicker, though: Their names are Stan (as in Stanley) and Vez (as in Vezina). It seems like a roundabout way for Brodeur to remind us of how incredible his career has been, but we're on board.
7. Mike Smith: Phoenix Coyotes
Artist David Arrigo, who is featured prominently throughout this list, was at it again on Mike Smith's mask. The usual Wile E. Coyote is featured and is front and center, but the Phoenix Coyotes netminder added a personal touch for this season.
In Goal Magazine breaks the new additions down nicely:
The Smith kids have joined Wile E. riding an ACME rocket, with one holding onto his ears, on the left side, and it catches up to and impales the road runner on the right side of the mask . The exhaust from the rocket trails back under the chin, which features a Route 41 highway sign for Smith’s No. 41, and over to the bottom of the right, with their names pillowing out in the smoke. One kid is wearing a “SmithPup” jersey.
Smith has a long line of Wile E. Coyote-themed masks dating back to when he first joined the Coyotes, but this one is probably the best of the bunch. A little bit of family, a little bit of hockey and a little bit of Road Runner. What's not to like?
6. Jonas Gustavsson: Detroit Red Wings
Over the years, the Detroit Red Wings have seen many a Motor City-themed mask. Netminders from Dominik Hasek to Jimmy Howard have utilized Detroit's nickname as inspiration for their helmets. Jonas Gustavsson may have the coolest one of them all, though.
He takes the Winged Wheel idea a step further. Instead of featuring a car or something along those lines, the man they call "The Monster" added a monster truck to his mask, neatly tying his nickname into a Detroit-centric design.
Here are several clearer views of Gustavsson's awesome cage.
5. Braden Holtby: Washington Capitals
You'll be hard-pressed to find an ex-Washington Capitals goalie that hasn't utilized the image of an eagle of some kind on his helmet. Not since Olaf Kolzig have the Caps seen a design as unique as the one that Braden Holtby is sporting this season, though.
The mask itself is painted as a cage, and inside of the cage is a furious-looking eagle. The birdcage motif is a clever take on the Washington Capitals' secondary emblem, and the cool idea is brought to outstanding life by artist David Gunnarsson.
4. Justin Peters
The Carolina Hurricanes didn't expect to see Justin Peters in the NHL at all this season. When Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin both went down at nearly the same juncture with injuries, the team was forced to recall Peters from the AHL to run with the No. 1 goalie tag for a little while.
He struggled early on but has recently found his footing.
We're not sure what this ferocious dog (entitled "Frankenstein's Dawg) has to do with either the Hurricanes or their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, but there's no denying that the design is awesome. The level of detail is truly outstanding.
3. Cam Talbot: New York Rangers
Who ya' gonna call?
Cam Talbot's unique and colorful mask answers that question with aplomb: Ghostbusters!
Slimer is featured prominently on one side, while the Stay Puft marshmallow man adorns the other. This is a unique nod to New York City—where "tubby soft squeeze" goes on his rampage during the first Ghostbusters film—and shows that with clever planning and brainstorming, a goalie can represent both himself and his city in one design.
The hues of blue that are utilized here are among the most unique colors used by any netminder throughout the NHL, making this one of the most awesome masks in the league.
2. Karri Ramo: Calgary Flames
Another stellar mask that may or may not have much of anything to do with the Calgary Flames. Still, Karri Ramo's design (entitled "The Beast") is one of the most hellacious in the NHL. The spine-ridged monster (dinosaur?) motif is outstanding and is brilliantly realized by David Gunnarsson.
Ramo may not have seized control of the No. 1 goalie spot with the Flames like the team had hoped, but this is still almost the most dialed-in of designs out there. Like the situation in Calgary, however, Ramo falls just short of the No. 1 spot.
1. Steve Mason: Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Mason always had slick masks while he was playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he knocked it out of the park once he landed with the Philadelphia Flyers. There's a little bit of everything for everyone on this helmet.
The team logo is prominently featured but with a twist: It appears to be stitched onto the helmet, giving way to the clear zombie theme that takes up the rest of the mask.
Designed and painted by Franny Drummond of Paint Zoo, Mason’s mask is set during the signing of the Declaration of Independence and features Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington – with a twist. All have been turned into zombies for Mason, who has always preferred scary, horror-themed lids.
And in our eyes, it doesn't get much cooler than that.