The 50 Best Goalie Mask Designs in NHL History

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The 50 Best Goalie Mask Designs in NHL History
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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. 

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