It began in 1959.
After experimenting with designs off the ice for months, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante felt he had found the right kind of goalie mask to use for protection in a game, but there was just one problem.
He wasn't allowed to use one.
It wasn't just that no goalie before him had ever worn a mask during a game in the NHL, but that his coaches, including head coach Toe Blake, thought it would hinder his vision, and therefore told Plante he would not be able to wear the mask.
Talk about tough love, and especially for a goalie who was on his way to winning his fifth straight Vezina Trophy as the best in the league.
Everything changed on Nov. 1, 1959, in a game against the New York Rangers. Andy Bathgate, a powerful forward for the Rangers, came steaming in on net and ripped a shot off the face of Plante, sending him into the dressing room for repairs.
Plante came back out on to the ice stitched up, but with a mask covering his face. He had found his excuse to wear a mask during a game, and never looked back.
Across the NHL, players, fans and media all felt it was a poor decision on Plante's part. Wearing the mask not only would block his vision and affect his play, but it made him look like he was afraid, and had people questioning his toughness.
Plante didn't care, and soon he wasn't the only goalie to go against the tide and don a mask. Just months later, Boston Bruins netminder Don Simmons became the second goalie ever to wear a mask, and more followed after that.
It became less of a hindrance, and more of a good decision, as they proved they could still play at the highest level while keeping all of their teeth...or whatever ones they had left.
The last goalie ever to play a game without a mask was Andy Brown in 1974; since then it has not only become one of the most obvious rules in the NHL, but the goalie mask is now the most expressive way for a player to show off their personal style and flair.
Designs range from interests they have to intimidating images of animals or creatures, but there is no doubting that the mask is one of the coolest aspects of the game.
Some stick to the same design through their entire career, never changing even when they're traded.
Others, like Carey Price, change designs on a regular basis, whether for a special event or holiday (you'll remember his Remembrance Day mask that was donated to charity after he wore it in game) or just to change things up.
The goalie mask has evolved incredibly since that November night in 1959, and over time we have been gifted with some impressive displays of creativity and design, though love is still shown to the original, old-fashioned style mask, too.
Here are the The 50 Best Goalie Mask Designs in NHL History.
We'll start off the list with a questionable one, as it's tough to decide whether Chico Resch's mask actually looks cool, or if it's just the vintage aspect of it talking.
We'll go with good-looking, just to keep it real, but Resch's mask does sort of resemble an arm cast that a 12-year-old has been wearing for two months.
The weird lobster-shaped figure in the middle of it is actually a map of Long Island. I promise.
This visionary piece of brilliance is made complete with orange highlights around various holes in the mask, just to make it that much more cheesy looking.
Turns out a fan actually painted it for him, which explains a lot. Seriously, I promise again.
It got beat up pretty quick, but that just might be because it was made out of paper and bubble gum (okay, that I don't promise).
On to the 49 other best-designed masks in NHL history...
Just in case you forgot where Kelly Hrudey was playing, he took the liberty of reminding everyone exactly where he was: Hollywood.
As the backstop for the Los Angeles Kings, Hrudey was known for the bandana he would always wear under the helmet, but the helmet itself was impressive to look at.
The movie reel and Hollywood Hills brought a lot of attention to his mask, just as it does to the city, and I'm sure the size of the mask alone made it easier for Hrudey to make saves. That thing was huge.
He now does work with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, which means he still gets all the camera time he wants, but there was no denying that he enjoyed his playing time in LA.
No word if he's gone as far as getting a giant Hollywood tattoo yet, but I'm sure we'll hear about it if it happens.
To be a goaltender in the NHL takes some serious guts, but in the case of former Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, Karri Ramo, it also takes brains.
He took the mask design in a completely new direction when he had his brains literally seeping out of the top of his bucket.
The brain painted on the top of the mask is hot pink and stands out from right across the rink, and he is certainly the first goalie to ever go the bulging-brain route.
A creative design, though, and one that was put to the side once he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason.
He hasn't played a game for them yet, so we haven't seen much of the mask he's currently wearing, but here's hoping he's taken his painted-on brains along with his skills to Montreal, and we'll get to see them soon enough this season.
In my opinion, it looks more like an Asian woman-themed headdress (I think it's the eyebrows) than a mask for the Chicago Blackhawks, but no matter what it looks like it's for, the work is well done.
Murray Bannerman played his entire seven-season career with the Blackhawks from 1980-87, and compiled 116 wins during that time. His mask, though weird-looking, sure was unique and got people talking when he started wearing it in the early '80s.
It's hard to tell exactly what all the markings are supposed to be, other than supposedly being Native American-styled, but the fact that they were similar to those shown on the jersey suggested that someone involved with it knew what they were doing.
It's the kind of mask that has you looking at it, wondering what exactly it's supposed to be. But maybe, just maybe, that's the point.
Felix Potvin played the first seven seasons of his career for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he brought with him one of most street-hockey-like masks we've ever seen.
It was simple, straightforward, and had no flashy images or cat figures (to go along with his nickname, Felix The Cat), but looked great with the uniform.
Like his play, the mask was smooth. Potvin is still known as one of the most popular goalies to have ever played in Toronto.
He moved on from the Leafs in 1998 and played for the Islanders, Canucks, Kings and Bruins before calling it a career.
Potvin kept the mask all the way through, simply changing the colours to match the jersey he wore.
John Grahame used the oldest trick in the book when it comes to distracting the opponent. What works better than a scantily clad woman?
The answer is nothing.
As a member of the Hurricanes until 2008, Grahame didn't see the ice much, but you can bet he got a ton of compliments about the design.
As far as what else is on the mask, I'm sorry, I didn't realize there was anything else on it.
Manny Legace played three seasons with the St. Louis Blues, and instead of focusing on himself in the design, he focused on those who serve the United States every day.
His mask was a salute to the armed forces, policemen and firemen, as well as remembering those who suffer from breast cancer.
It's a classy move by Legace and is a quick reminder that though players are multimillion-dollar athletes, they can still take time to pay tribute to real heroes across North America and the world.
Brian Hayward played in net for the San Jose Sharks. What gave it away?
He joined the team in 1991 but played just 15 games over the next two seasons for them. That didn't matter, though, because Hayward wore one of the most obvious masks we've ever seen, yet it looked so good.
He took the shark look to a new level, wearing an extra-large helmet which made the mouth and teeth seem monstrous. It also took away an extra inch or two of the net from shooters.
With his eyes peering through the wide-open mouth of the shark, fans and players alike loved the design. It's too bad he didn't get to play more, because all the hard work that went into the mask was hardly seen by the public.
And something tells me people couldn't stop thinking of a certain theme song whenever Hayward's mask was in sight. It just has that effect.
Fitting for a goalie who played for the Phoenix Coyotes to have a coyote on his mask, and Mikael Tellqvist did just that during his time with the team from 2006-09.
He played just 57 games with the club during that time, but we still got a taste of Wile E. Coyote of Looney Tunes fame, as well as The Roadrunner peeking in from the side.
We can safely assume that he wasn't as reckless as the coyote on the show, but he hasn't played a game in the league since 2008-09 with the Buffalo Sabres, so maybe there was more to the mask than we first thought.
Early on in his NHL career, Curtis Sanford had a unique idea when coming up with a design for his mask. Instead of doing all the work himself, he tapped into the fans and asked for their opinions on what he should bear on his bucket.
The result, as you can see, is a take on Sandford's nickname, The Sandman.
The crazy-looking wizard has red eyes and a crystal ball that contains whatever logo of the team he plays for at the time.
The background is simply changed to show the city he plays in. He last played for the Vancouver Canucks in 2009, and since then hasn't seen the ice.
To ask for the fans ideas is cool enough, but for the mask to actually turn out this nice is a bonus for Sandford. Now all he needs to do is look into that crystal ball and see if he can get himself back onto an NHL roster.
The amount of creativity that can be used for a mask design while you're on a team named after tree leaves can be a bit scarce, but Wayne Thomas did his best in 1976 when he unveiled this classic.
The crossing lines with the Maple Leafs logo printed across each gives it a simple look, but back then it was pretty innovative considering many goalies chose to go with one colour and nothing more.
One of the best Leaf masks of all time.
Michel Dion, while playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was one of the first goaltenders to ever attempt to do something about protecting the neck and throat area while in a game. He had a mask designed with a longer bottom, one that extended below the chin and covered more.
It looked more like the beak of a bird, but it was fitting since he was a member of the Penguins.
The three colours diagonally lined up the mask, and along with the logo on the top made it look great; a thin yellow and white outline brought it all together.
The style of mask didn't catch on much with other goalies around the league, and as you'll know now they use neck protectors that are separate from the mask itself. But it was innovative in its time, and one of the more unique-looking masks in history.
Something hockey players usually find a hard time keeping, and also a hard-to-miss aspect of Roman Turek's mask that he wore for much of his career in the NHL.
He took the band Iron Maiden's mascot, "Eddie," and took it to the extreme with a great look and, like I said, huge teeth.
Most goalies who use teeth on their helmets tend to go with the sharp, animal-style teeth, but Turek took these chompers and made them monstrous...not so much scary as just plain old huge.
Unique, and it looked great.
Turek played his last game in 2004 as a member of the Calgary Flames and now plays in the Czech Republic. No word on if the mask went across the pond with him.
It's a shame David Aebischer ever left the Colorado Avalanche after the 2005-06 season, because with him went this creative design of the Abominable Snowman. Or a Yeti. Or a tribute to all the grey playoff beards that have come through Denver through the last decade.
Anyway you slice it, the mask is sweet, and even though he's now playing in the Swiss League overseas we can forgive him, because we remember the mask that once was. And those two huge snarling teeth sticking out of the mouth of the beast.
And before we move on, allow me to say everyone's favourite word one more time.
It's one of the more unique styles we've seen lately, but after making the switch from his "Chris Osgood mask" that he wore last season, Tim Thomas assures us that his vision is much better.
And his play thus far is proof of that.
The giant, mean-looking bear on the side is extremely well done, with the claws underneath to go along with it. It's certainly one of the more expressive masks in the league right now, which matches perfectly the personality of the man who wears it on the ice.
The winner of the Vezina Trophy two seasons ago, Thomas is well on his way to another season worth of the award and playing at as high a level as we've seen by a goalie in some time.
It's been a sudden turnaround from the rough season he had last year, but as he's done throughout his entire hockey career, Thomas will assuredly continue to grin and bear it.
As far as replica masks go, Steve Shields has to have worn the best of them all in 2002-03 as a member of the Boston Bruins. He had it resembling the original Gerry Cheevers mask (which we'll see later on), that had stitches drawn every time he was struck in the face with a puck.
The Cheevers mask is a classic, and though Shields only played for the Bruins one season, appearing in just 36 games, it was a great piece of artwork.
The best part may have been the ears and hair that were painted on as well, showing that it wasn't only the great mask he was honouring, but the man behind it as well.
Goalies in the NHL today have it easy compared to the early days when netminders had poor excuses for protection covering their face. The old masks essentially stopped the bleeding, but did nothing to avoid bruising, concussions or pain.
Honouring one of the best from the past is a nice gesture, not to mention a great way to get yourself recognized on a list of some of the most impressive masks ever worn.
Nothing over the top with Henrik Lundqvist's mask, yet it looks just as good as the goalie who wears it tries to look off the ice.
Often said to be among the best-dressed players in the NHL, Lundqvist takes the simple approach with his mask, using the team logo as well as the Statue of Liberty to take up most of the space.
It's one of the more shiny masks, which fits in perfectly with a city than tends to give off a little shine itself.
Lundqvist was seen sitting front row at this year's Victoria's Secret pageant, but it's a safe bet that he didn't bring the mask with him.
He doesn't like it that much.
It wasn't uncommon while at an Atlanta Thrashers game in previous seasons to hear a loud booing sound echo through the arena after every save. Those weren't boos though, they were moos.
As in "Moooose."
Moose is, of course, the nickname of then-goaltender Johan Hedberg, who got the nickname in 2001 when he was called up by the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Manitoba Moose. He hadn't had time to change masks so he wore his usual one, bright with a moose right on the front.
Since that day the name has stuck, as has the design on his mask.
He's currently on the New Jersey Devils backing up Martin Brodeur, which usually gets you about as much ice time as an usher, but he's managed to find his way into the crease 14 times thus far this season.
In case you were wondering what a Predator looked like, Dan Ellis gave the NHL a pretty good idea with his incredibly detailed bucket when he played for the Nashville Predators.
He's moved on since then and now plays goal, well sort of, for the Tampa Bay Lightning; he just happens to be one half of the worst goalie duo in the NHL.
There's something to be proud of.
His mask was a mix between Predator and Ice Age, and gave the fans in Tennessee something flashy to look at when they didn't understand what was going on along that large piece of ice.
He's a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs now, but during his time with the Anaheim Ducks, J.S. Giguere had one of the coolest masks we've ever seen.
The mean-looking duck was half animal, half robot and gave a cutting-edge look to a goalie who's collected a lot of hardware during his NHL career.
His current mask with the Leafs is not as impressive as his old one, and one wonders where he would keep such a thing now that he doesn't need it anymore.
Here's hoping he kept it with him and didn't leave it behind, as this beauty of a bucket deserves to be admired.
Martin Gerber pays his homage to one of the greatest movies of all time; Star Wars, while a member of the Ottawa Senators. His Darth Vader was a dandy, and certainly had people talking in the nation's capital.
Gerber has been somewhat of a journeyman goaltender during his time in the NHL, meaning he's had more than a few masks to worry about, but this one is by far his best.
He played two games with the Edmonton Oilers this season before being cut by the team, but knowing this guy, he'll be back in the NHL before we know it.
And of course, wearing a new mask, too.
The Chicago Blackhawks already have what are arguably the nicest-looking jerseys in the NHL, but Cristobal Huet had to push it further by having one of the nicest masks designed too.
The colourful feathers coming out of the top, along with the hair coming down the side are a resemblance of an Indian head dressing. The dream-catcher on the front, as you can guess, is the perfect symbol for a goalie mask in the NHL, since after all, their job is to catch pucks.
What makes it even better is the two shine marks, if you will, that add an extra gleam to the already bright head gear.
The mask is just plain sweet, and though he's not with the team this season after they dumped any contract they could after their cap-busting run to the Stanley Cup, we still have the memory of his great design that was, unlike him apparently, worth what it cost.
John Vanbiesbrouck asked for his mask to be about as simple as it gets, and yet, once it was all said and done, it turned out he had one seriously stylish mask on his hands, er, head.
He wanted to logo of the Florida Panthers on his mask, just blown up and covering the entire thing. Easy enough, but the designer took it that little bit further and added some shine and some extra teeth on the growling panther. It worked.
Vanbiesbrouck wore a bigger helmet than most goalies, and his cage was a little smaller, which meant some extra painting surface was available, and it was all used.
He led the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996 and though they came out on the losing end, he is remembered to this day as maybe the most popular player to ever wear a Panthers jersey.
And certainly the most popular to ever wear the Panther on his head.
In 2006, Rick DiPietro signed a 15-year, $67.5 million contract with the New York Islanders. Since then he's had this mask designed, and it takes stars and stripes to the extreme.
He's had a ton of trouble staying healthy over the past few seasons, and it doesn't help that he plays for what is currently the worst franchise in the NHL (in every way possible), but the man still gets the job done when he's between the pipes.
His mask celebrates all that is the U.S., as well as honouring those who fight for it; it's just tough for Islander fans who see more of DiPietro in the stands watching the game instead of on the ice.
It looks sort of like a giant sticker was just plastered on the previously plain black mask, but Gary Simmons did in fact have the cobra painted on.
His nickname was the cobra, and so to have it painted across his face was only fitting. It also distracted the eyes away from the horrendous California Golden Seals jerseys.
They sort of looked like someone's mother used left-over fabric from a retirement home to throw the uniforms together. With a poor sewing job, at that.
Teal isn't exactly the best colour for a hockey team, as it's more fitted for a figure-skating club, but they went with it while they lasted, which thankfully wasn't too long.
Simmons never really had the opportunity to play for a team that was in contention and isn't the most recognizable name to have ever played in the crease, but the mask is worthy of mention.
Even if it's almost as tacky as the jersey he wore.
He's been through a few different designs since he entered the league as a Pittsburgh Penguin, but they've all looked great.
They no longer play in the arena nicknamed "The Igloo," but when they did this mask had even more meaning, as the image is of a penguin busting its way through said igloo.
The mask as served him well, already having two Finals appearances and a Stanley Cup under his belt, not to mention a gold medal.
There's little doubt that he'll be in Pittsburgh for years to come, so its likely we'll see yet another great design by one of the best goalies in the NHL.
He originally came up with the idea when he joined the Ottawa Senators in 1999, and since then Patrick Lalime has maintained the same look throughout his career.
He uses the character from the Looney Tunes, "Marvin the Martian" but with a more intimidating look than in the cartoons.
With each team he's played on he continues to use the mask, but adds different themes from the team. The one shown here was worn during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2006-08, where the Martian has feathers added and an Indian headdress.
It's one of the nicer paint jobs as well, but his sense of humour truly comes through in the design.
It's a wonder why more goalies don't go with the Looney Tunes theme, as there are more than a few characters that would look great on a mask.
Grant Fuhr switched masks frequently during his time with the Edmonton Oilers, but this one is by far his best. The two orange lines going down the middle made it pop, and the two Oilers logos on the side of the head looked like they were shooting out of the top of the helmet.
It just fit with the uniform.
The mask sat off his face a little bit, leaving his eyes set further back, which meant they were covered slightly by a shadow. Many goalies have done certain things to throw shooters off, but Fuhr might well have had the best without even meaning to do it.
The shadows covered his eyes and made it look like there was no face behind the mask.
But there was a face behind it, one that helped the Oilers to five Stanley Cups.
Simeon Varlamov, the young Washington Capitals netminder, takes the two-faced approach when it comes to his design, and we're not talking about his personality.
When he broke into the league, as a member of the AHL's Hershey Bears, he had one half dedicated to that team, while the other side of the mask showed the logo of the team he hoped to play for in the future—the Capitals.
Now a member of the NHL club, Varlamov switched things up a bit, keeping the one side dedicated to the city he plays in (with Mount Rushmore and American flags), but having the opposite side represent his other home—Russia.
In a brilliant display of colour, the double-sided eagle is shown along with Russian flags, paying homage to the place where he was born.
The detail is spectacular and it gives everyone a taste of where he came from, and where he plans on playing for a long time.
Yes, that is a machine gun-firing gangster on the side of Antero Niittymaki's mask, and no, that doesn't mean he is a member of any mobs during his time spare time from being an NHL goalie.
Thanks to the mobster Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, who was the famous partner of Al Capone, Niittymaki decided it was only right to take the play on words and turn it into an image on his mask. It's Nitti meets Nitty, if you will.
It was a good thing he decided it was what he wanted on his mask too, because it turned out great, as bullet casings fall from the smoking gun being relentlessly shot from above. The bullet holes down by the chin are a nice touch, too.
Niittymaki plays for the San Jose Sharks now, but while he was in Philadelphia from 2003-09 this mask did a lot of the talking for him.
I guess since he's the one taking shots all night, this was his way of taking charge and shooting back.
There are ferocious-looking beasts on goalie masks, and then there's Tuukka Rask and his bear beauty. The teeth and claws practically take over the entire canvas, but it looks so good that no one is complaining.
Sure, he took the easy way out by using the least amount of creativity possible in having a bear on the mask, but as the most talented backup goalie (by far) in the NHL this season—thanks to Tim Thomas being borderline unconscious every night—we can let it slide.
And not only is he the best backup, but he's the most untouchable as well. Teams would unload draft picks by the truckload to get their hands on a goalie with these skills.
Or in the Leafs' case, they'd just take their draft pick back.
Though he is one half of what has been a less-than-stellar goaltending tandem this season for the Ottawa Senators, you have to give some serious respect to Brian Elliott's mask.
He throws back to his childhood days while watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, by having one of the many characters on the show painted on his mask: Casey Jones.
It is a fitting choice, since Jones also wears a mask and carries around a big stick, though his is used for much different things than stopping pucks.
Elliott has given it a little extra flair by adding a Sens tattoo on the arm, as well as putting one on the sack that Jones is carrying his, um, sticks in.
Barbed wire also stretches across the front and intertwines with his name.
The mask is great, and you can bet it's a hit with the kids, as well as plenty of adults who are still stuck in their childhood. Nonetheless, TMNT is a classic, and you've got to love a goalie who shows some love to a classic.
A goalie who would dare walk onto the ice with an all-purple mask? Oh, you know he's got to be on this list.
Rogie Vachon (great name), as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, originally went with a completely purple head gear before adding the two crowns on the top. It added some flavour to it, of course, but in the end it still looked something like what a teenage girl would have designed, rather than a professional goalie.
At one point he even had the mouth shaped in a smile, seemingly mocking the opponent as they rushed in towards the net.
It worked though, and Vachon had some great seasons in the net for the Kings. In 1974-75, he finished second in Hart Trophy voting to Bobby Clarke and positioned his team as one of the best heading into the postseason. He won 27 games that year while compiling six shutouts and an impressive 2.24 GAA.
In 16 seasons (Montreal, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston) he won 355 games, and 23 more in the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard's mask is sweet, there's just no better way to describe it.
When you find an excuse to paint a Shelby GT on the side of your mask, it's probably going to look really nice, and as one would expect, Howard's does.
The speedometer is pushed to the brink as it shows an engine revved to full bore.
Of course, the car theme is linked to the city of Detroit and its rich (okay maybe not so much these days) history of classic, good old American horsepower.
He's worked his way to the top on the Red Wings, and now is their starting goaltender behind one of the most experienced teams in the league. It would shock no one if they found themselves back in the Stanley Cup Finals at the end of this season.
In case you ever wondered what Spider-Man would look like had he been orange, black and white, Wayne Stephenson gave us a pretty good indication as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
He joined the club in 1974 and played five seasons there, using this mask as both protection and a bold display of who these Broad Street Bullies were.
The two giant Flyers logos that stretched along each side of the mask and joined in the middle surrounded his eyes, putting the focus of shooters right into his fierce glare.
Stephenson had the best season of his 10-year NHL career as a member of the Flyers in 1975-76, when he played in 66 games and won 40 of them.
He finished his career with 146 wins, but is still remembered for his colourful mask. He also had a very popular one as a member of the Washington Capitals, where he finished his career. Two giant stars around his eyes once again highlighted his determined glare.
He played the last nine seasons as a member of the Dallas Stars before signing with the Chicago Blackhawks this season, and aside from becoming one of the most beloved players to ever play for the club, he also was the owner of one of the best-looking masks around.
His gargoyle-themed bucket sent the message that he, like the gargoyles, was positioned to keep you out.
As some netminders like to do, Turco often wore two different masks; one he used at home, and the other he would wear on the road.
Either way he went, they both looked great because of the insane amount of detail put into both. From the jagged teeth sticking out of the mouth to the dagger-like claws protruding from the feet, the artist spared no expense when it came to these works of art.
He's moved on to the defending champion Blackhawks, but like Turco himself, no one will forget the mask he wore any time soon.
Word on the street is that Curt Ridley had absolutely no hand in helping design the mask that he wore for the Vancouver Canucks, but nonetheless, since he wore it, we're giving him all the credit.
The mask takes the old-but-new Canucks stick logo to the extreme as they essentially envelope the entire mask while they cross through the middle.
The team was smart to switch back to the old look and colours of their jerseys in today's NHL, as they look much better, but it would be great to see a current-day goaltender of the team pay some respect to Ridley and remake this beauty on a new-age mask.
Maybe one of those guys that never get to play behind Roberto Luongo could do it. That is, if Vancouver even hires a backup goalie these days.
Not only is he currently one of the best goaltenders on the planet, but Ryan Miller also boasts one of the coolest masks in the NHL.
The blue, yellow and grey buffalo (same colours as the jersey) has giant red eyes and combines various aspects of the team in a smooth-flowing, great-looking style. It also has the same stern look as Miller does when he plays. Concentrated and confident.
He had a similar mask in his earlier days with the Sabres, but as they changed their jerseys and colours, he also had his mask changed to keep it matching.
The Vezina Trophy winner from a year ago has gotten off to a tough start this season, as has his team, but if his former performances are any indication, Miller will do everything in his power to get his team back into the playoff race.
And if he can't, he still has a cool mask to talk about.
It's been said that Jim Rutherford was the first goalie to ever have a design painted on his mask, as most were simply happy with one colour for the whole thing, usually white.
Rutherford was traded to the Detroit Red Wings and had a designer paint his mask before the first game. When he saw the mask for the first time, there were two red wings painted over each eye, which didn't sit well with Rutherford, who did not think it would be wise to start attracting so much attention before even playing a game for the Wings.
But, after a strong performance while wearing the winged face shield, Rutherford conceded that he liked the look, as did everyone else. The rest, as they say, is history.
It's an incredibly simple design, but because of the originality of it and the fact that it looks so good with the uniform, makes it a no-brainer to go on this list.
It's a shame Curtis McElhinney is a member of the Anaheim Ducks these days, because the mask he wore during his time with the Calgary Flames was of epic proportions.
The amount of detail that went into the painting of the entire thing was incredible, and the creativity with various aspects of the mask made it that much more special. The coolest part is on the side, where a cowboy-hat-wearing skull is pointing a gun, which is painted right over the ear hole.
It allows you to look right down the shaft of the gun in true stick-'em-up style.
The rest of the mask was just as hot though, pun very much intended, as the flames enveloped various skull heads in flames.
Not to put it past him with his new team, but I'm pretty sure no matter what he wears now or in the future, he'll never be able to outdo the burning gun mask he wore back in the wild West.
Dan Bouchard was the first Atlanta Flames goalie to take the flame theme to heart when it came to the design for the mask, as almost every goalie since then to play for the team (Calgary) has done the same.
He could have gone with just the plain white or red, as many others in the league were doing at the time, but Bouchard decided that it was better to go with something a little more exuberant, and came up with this beauty.
He looked somewhat like the character in a horror movie more than a man hired to stop pucks, but that probably was the point.
Intimidation is the name of the game, and in his case, Bouchard sure brought the heat (sorry, I had to).
Goalies now like Miikka Kiprusoff have taken the flame design to levels far greater than this, of course, but there is something about the simplistic nature of the original that makes it look so good.
Old is good when it comes to goalie masks.
Gerry Desjardins played the first nine seasons of his NHL career with an all-white mask (no detail, no colour, no creativity) but in his 10th and final season as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, he decided it was time to change things up.
In 1976-77 he first had his mask painted, and the two criss-crossed sabres along with the buffalo on the forehead were so simple, yet with the colour scheme it looked so smooth.
For those of us who appreciate a nice-looking mask, it's a good thing he decided to go with something different in his final season.
Desjardins played just three games with the team the year after that before retiring, but not before leaving his mark in the world of goalie memorabilia.
He had all the opportunity in the world to use his name to make a perfectly fitting design, but instead of going the ferocious beast route, the Montreal-born Wolfe took his role between the pipes with the Washington Capitals seriously.
So he went right ahead and had the American colours painted on his mask. Complete with red, white and blue, along with stars to bring it all together, Wolfe's face shield came out as one of the brightest forms of patriotism we've seen.
And he wasn't even American.
He was the kind of goalie who would go to great lengths to make a save, no matter what position he found himself in. Think of him as an old-time Dominik Hasek, flailing across the crease and giving his body up to stop the puck.
Guys named Gilles sure do seem to have great masks. You'll see what I mean later on.
Before he became a member of the Cleveland Barons, Gilles Meloche never had any designs painted on his mask, but decided he would break his routine and add some colour when he arrived in 1976.
The baron on his forehead, along with the giant "B" right in the middle of his face and the coat of arms-style art all go together perfectly; with the colours matching that of the jerseys, it just had a great look overall.
And I'm sure on more than one occasion it served as a distraction for a player bearing down on him, because with the tiny pads goalies wore back in those days, they needed all the help they could get if they wanted any intimidation coming from between the pipes.
Meloche only played two seasons with the Barons, but his artistic armor is worthy of recognition.
They just called him Cujo.
The vicious-looking dog from the Stephen King novel was also the nickname of Curtis Joseph, winner of 454 games in the NHL over his career, and owner of one of the most popular modern-day masks.
The colours and small designs on the side changed as Joseph went from team to team, but the one constant was the savage beast on top with the wide-open mouth ready to devour its prey.
Cujo was beloved whereever he played, and his ferocious mask just made him more popular with fans around the league, whether cheering for his team or not.
His style of play resembled the dog on his mask as well: wild.
Cujo's erratic style of play made him one of the toughest goalies to beat, because you just didn't know how he was going to make the save.
He was also very rarely out of the play, as he would often dive across the crease with no hesitation, flailing body parts any which way.
He was one of a kind, and that mask is a big reason why.
Many goalies follow the trend of designing their mask around the theme of their nickname, but for Ed Belfour, it went the other way around.
As a young player with the Chicago Blackhawks, Belfour wanted to put a hawk on the mask, but the designer suggested an eagle instead, explaining it stood out more with its features.
Though the eagle on each side of his head changed slightly over the years, the symbol remained the same, and because of that Belfour was known as "Eddie the Eagle"—a nickname that stuck for the rest of his career, just like his mask.
After playing for the Blackhawks, Belfour also stood between the pipes for San Jose, Dallas (where he won a Stanley Cup), Toronto and Florida. The eagle went with him to all those places, and is one of the most well-known goalie masks in history.
Belfour won 484 games in his illustrious career and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer when the time comes, and you can bet when he's inducted into the Hall, there will be mention of the eagle that gave him his name in the NHL.
There is one word that comes to mind when you see the mask that Ken Dryden wore throughout his career.
Dryden wore the classic red, white and blue mask for the first time with the Montreal Canadiens in 1974. It had sort of a dart board or bulls-eye look to it, which lead many to call it the "target mask."
Dryden was the backstop of one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, as his Canadiens went on to win six Stanley Cups in the 1970s.
Funnily enough, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs in 1971, and then went to win the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in next season. He was the only player ever to win the one before the other, as his first season did not actually count as his rookie year.
Just the mentioning of his name brings a smile to Habs fans, who consider Dryden as royalty in their city.
They called him "Bones" because of his small size and stature, so Gary Bromley took the nickname to heart, and face, when it came to designing the mask he wore as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
Bromley's mask was not only popular in his day, but he set in a motion a trend that has goalies today having skull-like faces on their own, taking their intimidation level up a notch.
But there will never be another quite like Bones'.
Goalies today have the majority of the face open, with just a cage across, so they aren't able to get the full effect as Bromley was. His mask came complete with teeth and a nose, with only his eyes visible through the frightful face mask.
It made it all the better.
The Canucks wore their infamous black jerseys as well at the time, making the skull face look that much better. It just went perfectly.
He was mostly a backup netminder during his days in the NHL, meaning the mask was probably more well-known than he was, but when he was able to play and wear it, there was no denying its awesome design.
He took the art of the goalie mask right down to the Bones.
He was called '"Gratoony The Looney" for numerous reasons, but there was no arguing that Gilles Gratton had one of the coolest mask designs ever.
Gratton claims that the painting is of a tiger, though many through history have argued that it looks more like a lion. Nonetheless, it stands out as one of the best.
He got the idea when reading a National Geographic magazine and seeing a bunch of pictures of tigers. He figured it would look good on his mask, so he had it designed. He was right.
He played just 47 games in the NHL from 1975-77 (six with the St. Louis Blues, 41 with the New York Rangers) but the tiger he donned during his short time with the Rangers was enough to put him on the list of the greatest masks of all time.
Can you imagine coming in to shoot on him, looking up and seeing that face growling back at you? I'm sure it startled more than a few players the first time they saw it.
The mask is in the Hockey Hall of Fame today, though if it were up to Gratton he would have it back in his possession. Apparently he has asked for it back, but the Hall has informed him that the historical piece is actually owned by the Rangers and not him.
But whether he can have it now is beside the point. The fact is Gratton wore one of the coolest designs ever, and certainly ranks up there as one of the most intimidating of them all as well.
Gerry Cheevers still holds the NHL record he set for goaltenders in 1971-72 when he went unbeaten for 32 straight games, but there is something else that he is more known for leaguewide.
He started out with a plain white mask, just as everyone else in the 12-team league had at the time, but things changed for the Boston Bruins netminder one day in practice when he was hit in the mask with a rocket shot that sent him to the ice.
He was escorted into the dressing room, where he began to get undressed, when coach Harry Sinden came in telling him to get back out on the ice.
He agreed, but before he could put the mask back on that saved him from getting real stitches, one of the trainers took a black marker and marked on the plain white mask a drawing of 10 stitches where he had taken the shot.
It started as a joke, but soon Cheevers began using the magic marker to draw on fake stitches every time he was hit in the face, whether during practice or games.
Soon the entire canvas was covered in black stitch drawings, and launched both him and the face shield into legendary status. Kids grew up wanting a Cheevers mask. Other goalies around the league began designing their masks in creative ways to match what he had done.
But none was as popular, or as recognizable as Cheevers' magic marker mask.
It may not be the most colourful or taken the longest to design, but the fact that it was all drawn on by him or his trainers gives it a real sense of, well, realness.
It was a symbol of who he was, and lives on as the most popular mask in NHL history to this day, simply because of how real it was.
As a goalie he got hit in the face with pucks. Instead of having real stitches in his face, the mask protected him, so he drew fake stitches on that.
So simple, and yet oh so good.
It is so popular in fact, that when Steve Shields was traded to the Bruins, he had his helmet designed in honour of the famous Cheevers mask, as we saw earlier.
There will never be another mask like Cheevers', who made it so authentic and memorable by simply adding to it every time it did its job.
There is no doubting it is the best, most popular mask ever worn in NHL history.