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New York Rangers: The 5 Greatest Masks in Team History

Mike RappaportAnalyst IIDecember 19, 2011

New York Rangers: The 5 Greatest Masks in Team History

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    Today, pictures of the Winter Classic masks for Rangers' goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron were released, and both goalies definitely used their imaginations to come up with great designs.

    Lundqvist's mask has a collection of different logos. On the top of the mask, he has the Rangers' original logo, which is the shield for the Winter Classic jersey. He also has his own logo near the bottom of the mask, and the Rangers' Statue of Liberty logo that appeared on their jerseys from 1997-2006.

    Biron's mask is a little more specific, as it pays homage to former Rangers' goalie Gilles Gratton and also has the Rangers' Winter Classic logo.

    With Winter Classic goalie masks being the topic of discussion today, let's take a look at five of the greatest masks in New York Rangers' history.

5. Henrik Lundqvist : 2010-11

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    While some goalies like to keep their mask the same from year to year, Henrik Lundqvist has changed the design on his mask every season since he arrived in New York. With many creative designs over the last seven seasons, it is the 2010-11 version of his mask that stands out.

    On the front of the mask, Lundqvist has "NYR" painted across the front and also has a logo on either side of the mask. On one side, he has the Rangers' statue of liberty logo, and on the other side, he has his own logo, which is the number 30 inside a crown, decorated with the Rangers' red, white and blue colors.

    The back of the mask pays homage to Henrik's roots and his new home. Lundqvist has both the American and Swedish flags on the back of his masks, as well as a tribute to 9/11 and New York City, which is described as "the heart of USA."

4. Eddie Giacomin: 1970-1973

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    In his 10 seasons with the Rangers, Eddie Giacomin became one of the most popular players in team history. When he retired, he held team records for wins, appearances and shutouts. For the first five seasons of his career, Giacomin didn't wear a mask.

    Giacomin wore the mask in the picture from 1970-73. Although, it isn't as fancy as some of the masks that followed, it maintains the classic look as one of the original goalie masks. 

    Although Giacomin eventually wore a mask, he was one of the last goalies in the league to wear one, as he felt he would have trouble playing the puck with reduced visibility. 

3. John Davidson: 1980

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    John Davidson played parts of eight seasons with the Rangers and was the main reason the Rangers were able to reach the 1979 Stanley Cup Finals.

    After his playing career, Davidson joined MSG Network and became the Rangers' color commentator for 20 years alongside Sam Rosen.

    Davidson's "Lone Ranger" mask is rare, as he only wore it for a short time during the 1980 season. However, the theme made the mask a classic, as the paint over the eyes is reminiscent of the main character in "The Lone Ranger" TV series.

2. Gilles Gratton: 1976-77

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    Gilles Gratton's mask is one of the most legendary masks in NHL history and shows how some goaltenders can be "quirky" (a la Ilya Bryzgalov and the universe, via CSN).

    The inspiration for the mask was purely Gratton's. A believer in astrology, Gratton, a Leo, told head coach John Ferguson he couldn't play one night because the stars were not properly aligned. As a result, Gratton hoped this mask would scare opposing shooters coming down on him.

    However, the mask's legacy is greater than Gratton's between the pipes.

1. Mike Richter: 1992-2003

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    Mike Richter holds the Rangers' records for most all-time appearances and wins by a goaltender. He also has the distinction of having the most iconic mask in team history.

    After wearing the old-style cage for the first three seasons of his career, Richter switched to the "Liberty mask," which he would wear for the remainder of his career. The design was simple—the Statue of Liberty on top of the mask with the word Rangers coming down the sides (like on the jersey) and the Rangers shield at the bottom.

    Richter's liberty design was later used as the design for the team's alternate jersey.

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