Growing up, I was always intrigued by the different designs and symbols goalies used to put on their masks. The first goalie I became a fan of was Mike Richter with his Statue of Liberty mask.
Through the years, goalie masks have become more detailed and more interesting. A goalie's mask can tell you a lot of things. It can tell you where the goalie hails from or what team he plays for.
It could tell you what his interests are, like Jason Lababera's Los Angeles Kings mask with members of Metallica on it, or Brent Johnson's many masks paying tribute to Led Zeppelin. Some masks pay tribute to the city that their team plays in or the greats that have gone down in history.
So let's take a look at 30 goalie masks worn by goaltenders in the 2010-11. Feel free to comment.
Quite simply, Jonas Hiller is at the bottom of the list because, well, he does not have a designed mask. A simple all-black mask will do for the Swiss netminder.
There is not much to the Vancouver Canucks ex-captain Roberto Luongo's goalie mask, but then again have you seen their third jersey. I understand that the jersey is paying homage to the jerseys worn by the Canucks when they first entered the league after the WHL was absorbed by the NHL and I have nothing wrong with that. However, you would think that Luongo would make the mask more detailed after seeing some of the previous masks he has worn for Vancouver and Florida.
Chris Mason defines retro this year with his Atlanta Thrashers mask. The mask is very simple with the Thrashers symbol used on the shoulder of the team's home and away jersey on the mask.
Ilya Bryzgalov's mask is a simple mask as it has the Phoenix Coyotes symbol over the top of the mask. Bryzgalov also has drawings that were done by his children on each side of the mask. I have seen goalies put their children's initials on their masks like Martin Brodeur, but this is the first time I have seen something like this. I think its a nice touch and something out of the ordinary.
The Capitals netminder from the Czech Republic dons this red and white mask for the Eastern Conference's first place team. This mask is very team-oriented with Capitals going over the top with wings at each end of the cage.
The newest addition to the St. Louis Blues, Jaroslav Halak, didn't take long to represent St. Louis on his head gear. On one side of Halak's mask shows the symbol that everyone thinks about when they think St. Louis, the arch. While the other side pays homage to some of the great St. Louis goalies through the years, Mike Liut, Grant Fuhr and the great Jacques Plante.
It is clear that Brent Johnson is a Led Zeppelin fan as he dons a Led Zeppelin themed goalie mask for the second year in a row. On the left side of this mask, there is a picture of the Hindenburg, which was on the cover of Zeppelin's debut album.
Don't know who Brian Elliot plays for? Just look at his mask. Elliot goes above and beyond for his Senators mask with the Senator himself on the right side of the mask and a huge "O" on the left side. Elliot puts his seal of approval on it with "ELLIOT' across the chin of the mask
With a new team and a new mask for Anttii Niemi, he decided that he wanted to keep the tribal theme that he had had with the Chicago Blackhawks. The designer of the mask was able to incorporate the tribal theme with sharks as seen along the rim of the mask. The cage of the mask acts as the inside of a shark's mouth as the top of the mask and chin are the mouth of the shark.
This isn't Carey Price's first rodeo, but his mask shows otherwise. Price's mask has two cowboys, one on each side of the mask. The Canadiens symbol sits on top of the mask, while Price gets creative with the Price across the chin, with a longhorn skeleton replacing the "I"
Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers has donned this mask for the past two years. Nicknamed the "Bulin Wall," seen across the chin of his mask, Nikolai takes his nickname to heart on his mask. The Berlin Wall is on both sides of the mask with two large birds over top the mask.
The Finnish netminder Niklas Backstrom's mask includes the downtown Minnesota skyline. Each side of the mask includes a wolf, while the top of the mask has the Minnesota Wild logo. Backstrom adds his nickname "Backs" across the chin.
Without his mask, young Tuukka Rask looks like someone who the elderly neighbors next door would say to each other, "He's such a nice boy." But when this Finnish phenom puts on this mask, all of those nice comments go out the window.
With it's gold cage, this mask has one of the scariest bears I have ever seen. This bear doesn't just steal your picnic baskets, it may steal your soul. Rask uses this mask to strike fear into the opponents and then snatches the puck out of the air when you least expect it.
In the past, Henrik Lundqvist has never really embraced his "King Henrik" nickname on his mask. Usually it is decked out in Rangers logos and the Statue of Liberty to represent where he plays. However, this year, there is a little bit of the King on this mask as you can see the number 30 inside of the crown on the right side of his mask. The mask has a picture of the Statue of Liberty on the left side and the letters "NYR" across the chin of the mask.
Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun's mask is very simple yet representative of him at the same time. Vokoun has two panthers on his mask that are jumping towards its prey. This is very similar to the way that Vokoun dives across the crease to make spectacular save on a regular basis. The only bad thing about his mask is when the Panthers wear their Maine Black Bears third jerseys that make Vokoun and his red pads just look ugly.
We have not seen a lot of Rick DiPietro due to injuries, but when we do, the American goaltender whose father served in the military, likes to show his support for the U.S. military on his mask. The mask has an American flag draped down the middle of it and is covered in several pictures including several military helicopters and the picture of firefighters raising the American flag after the devastating events that were 9/11.
Sergei Bobrovsky shows fans where he hails from as well as where he calls home now on his mask. On one side of the mask, Bobrovsky has a Russian fighter jet, as well as other buildings around Russia. On the other side, Bobrovsky shows an American fighter jet and shows Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, two things that represent the place that has had goalie issues since Ron Hextall, Philadelphia.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason goes with the Civil War theme for his mask. On the top of the mask is the famous cannon that goes off every time the Blue Jackets score a goal. Next to the cannon is a tough-looking Abraham Lincoln, the toughest I have ever seen.
On the other side, Mason put a Blue Jacket himself who is ready for battle. Mason adds his special touch by putting his nickname "Mase" across the chin of the mask.
Mike Smith of the Tampa Bay Lightning mixes the lightning theme with the Marvel X-Men superhero Storm. Smith has two different pictures of Storm on his mask as well as several detailed lightning bolts. When opposing teams "bring the rain," this netminder is there to stop them.
Cam Ward's mask seems to go with the theme of "Beware of the Sea." Not only do you have to fear Hurricanes while at sea, as seen by the Hurricanes logo on both sides of his mask, but you also have to be scared by the ghost pirates that apparently roam around the coast of North Carolina.
Either way, I like how detailed the pirates are on "Wardo's" mask and the fact that he did not just put the Hurricane symbol and call it a day.
The flaming skull goalie mask of Miikka Kiprusoff has been used by the Finnish goalie for quite a few years and it is one of the best masks in the league. You could not tell me that going one-on-one with a guy that has flaming skulls all around his face wouldn't phase you at all.
On the right side of Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson's mask, you will find a vintage look. At the top is the Colorado Avalanche logo with the word "Avalanche" streaked across the bottom of the mask. But, on the other side, as seen in the picture, Anderson goes a little out of the ordinary.
Anderson's mask always include one thing, a Corvette, and this one is no different with a red Corvette being driven by what looks like a goblin of some sort.
Ryan Miller's mask has been used by the netminder for several years now and it is a very detailed helmet. From afar it looks as though it is just the face of a buffalo, but throughout the mask you can see several different items.
Bringing us back to the days of looking through the "I Spy" books, one can see the capital B on the left side of the mask, as well as the signature swords at the bottom of the mask that are used in the Buffalo Sabres logo.
Jonathan Quick's goalie masks is one of my personal favorites. He truly takes his team name, the Kings, and puts it into his mask. What reminds you more of medieval times than a knight's helmet? Maybe a sword, but Quick does just fine with a goalie stick.
Wherever Johan Hedberg has gone, the nickname of the "The Moose" has always followed him around. I enjoy how he embraces the nickname and incorporates it with his masks. On his latest team, the New Jersey Devils, Hedberg dresses the Moose up in a cape and devil mask. And with starter Martin Brodeur nursing a sore elbow, we could be seeing more of the Moose soon.
Goalies are pretty much given the green light to run with any idea they have for a goalie mask. I always enjoy when a goalie is creative with those ideas, hence why Jimmy Howard is No. 5. Howard has a picture of one of Spider-Man's most hated foes, Dr. Octopus or Doc Oc as some would call him. Oh, how unbeatable Howard would be if he had a few more helping hands!
It's not everyday that Chuck Norris graces a NHL goalie mask. And that is why Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen is No. 4. The only question I have is why didn't someone think of putting Chuck Norris on their mask sooner?
I would never want to cause traffic in front of the net in fear of roundhouse kick. Lehtonen's mask has two pictures of the action star, one holding a gun and other doing his signature roundhouse kick.
Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson really puts his nickname into his goalie mask. The designer of the mask, Dave Gunnarsson takes the monster design from Jonas' goalie mask last year and his Olympic mask worn for Sweden, and casually throws in some blue maple leafs to really give it a team look.
Pekka Rinne's mask took the Predator idea and ran with it. If his mask does not strike fear into opposing teams, I don't know what will. Rinne's mask has a predator wearing a old time hockey mask.
You can see the Predator's vicious teeth on the side of the mask and his fierce eyes almost coming through it's mask. The design of the mask is very detailed, from the look of the Predator behind the mask to the cracks and bandages placed all over the only thing keeping this Predator from attacking!
And No. 1 belongs to Marty Turco.
Since his days as a Dallas Star, Turco has always incorporated gargoyles into his mask. When asked about the gargoyles when he arrived in Chicago, Turco stated that he liked the idea of gargoyles because they act as gatekeepers and protectors, which Turco has done very well throughout his career.
Turco has both a home and away goalie mask with the gargoyles, the home mask being red, and the away being white. The gargoyles on the mask were painted by Dave Gunnarsson and they are very detailed and look great.