Top 10 Goalie Masks of the 1990’s.
I consider the 1990’s as the golden age of goalie mask design. I loved the simplicity of the designs, but I also appreciated that many goalies adopted a design that was unique to them, not their team, and they were able to keep it when they moved to other team. It was hard to come up with a top 10 for this list, so I’ve added a few honorable mentions.
Bill Ranford’s Edmonton mask is simple, yet iconic. The oil drops along the forehead are still replicated by Oiler goalies today. There is just something about seeing old photos of Ranford making an old school kick save with this mask on that screams 1990s to me.
Mike Vernon has two masks that make the honorable mention list. Vernon’s Calgary mask is great. It is a design that aligns with the team, but is simple and can be seen clearly by fans in the stands, or watching on TV. I sometimes wonder why it hasn’t been replicated, and updated with a Dave Art touch.
Vernon’s other mask on the list is his red background Red Wing’s mask. Another simple design – a trend in all his stops in the NHL. To me this is the best Wings mask of all time. The mask incorporates the winged wheel on both sides, and forehead in such a simple, yet elegant design. I’m not a Wings fan, but if I had to play for the Wings this is the mask I’d replicate.
John Casey’s Minnesota North Stars mask is a great play on the team jersey. A simply green background, with a few yellow stars on it to match the one on his jersey. When the team moved to Dallas and changed their colors, Casey kept the same design, but adapted it to the new colors. The Dallas version looked good, but the Minnesota one just pops with the green and yellow.
10. When the San Jose Sharks hit the ice for their inaugural season, goalie Brian Hayward’s mask had the obvious design, a shark with it’s mouth open around his face. For the team it was perfect, but it wasn’t as simple as the other mask you’ll see on the list. It’s probably the one mask on this list that I’d like to see a guy like Dave Gunnarsson try to recreate with all of his modern paint techniques.
9. Stephane Fiset’s Nordiques mask that featured a brick wall made out of ice blocks with the Nordiques logo breaking through on the forehead makes me wonder how this design did find its way to the NHL sooner. The concept is one that I think a squirt goalie would come up, with, but worked so well with those Nordiques jerseys.
8. While playing for the Boston Bruins Andy Moog went with an obvious design – a bruin, but unlike other goalie before him, he went with a Haward-esk design with the bruin’s mouth open around his face. It was a simple design compared to today’s masks that can look lifelike, but it worked. It worked so well that he kept the design when he was with Dallas.
7. To put Curtis Joseph on this list some would jump to the conclusion that it would be one of his Cujo masks (which were awesome), but his original mask with the trumpets on the side, and sheet music down the chin just screams St. Louis Blues to me. It was so good that Brian Elliott sported the same design in 2016 first for the Winter Classic, but liked it so much he kept wearing it.
6. When I think Florida Panthers, I think John Vanbiesbrouck and his iconic panther mask. A few things made this mask great. The first being the design with its clean, crisp lines that matched the crest on the jersey. The next was the Armadilla mask and it’s unique profile. Lastly it was the fact that Vanbiesbrouck was using the grid cage instead of the popular cat eye cage most pros wear. He also looked intimidating when he’d get in a crouch where he was bent over, looking at the ice and all you saw was the face of the panther on his head.
5. Felix “The Cat” Potvin had one of the most replicated masks by beer league goalies. I can’t really say for sure what the design is, but it appears to be a mix between an abstract cat and maple leaf. As a Hawks fan I never liked Potvin because he seemed to always play his best against the Hawks – especially in the playoffs. As a goalie I also didn’t like the way he held his glove hand. The being said, the guy was good. I also liked that he kept this design as he went to other teams. He may have added a little something like a crown in L.A. or claws in Boston, but the overall design was the same.
4. Martian Brodeur broke onto the scene with a simple red mask with a white stripe that had the word ‘Devils” in green on it, but he didn’t have that mask long. Pretty quickly Brodeur got his iconic red, black and white mask with the flame on the chin, and flames going up the side with just the Devils ‘J’ on the forehead. I’ve never come across anything that explains why he didn’t have the full NJ logo, but it worked. It worked so well, that when he retired with the Blues he kept the same concept, but replaced the ‘J’ at the top with the Blues logo. I was not a fan of the MB30 logo he replaced the ‘J’ with in the 2000’s as I felt he was putting his personal brand ahead of the team.
3. Patrick Roy’s Canadians mask is so simple that you might miss some of its great design aspects. You may miss that the lines on either side of the Canadians logo on the forehead spell out Roy. You might also miss that the logo on the chin doesn’t have the iconic ‘H’ inside, but Roy’s number 33. The blue cage was different for the time too as goalies typical stuck to the familiar white cages.
2. When I think New York Rangers, I think red, white and blue. When I think New York City I think of Lady Liberty. Throw the two together and you have one of my all time favorite masks worn by Mike Richter. I remember late in his career when he took a puck off the head and it let a giant chip in Lady Liberty’s face. Today a goalie would have had that fixed right away. Not Richter. He wait till the season was over. What was also great about this mask was that he only ever made minor tweaks to the design on the side, but not Lady Liberty on the forehead. The mask also worked perfectly when he played with Team USA.
1. Eddie the Eagle. It’s hard to argue that Ed Belfour’s eagle mask first painted by the famed mask maker and painter Greg Harrison, before Todd Miska, then Bishop Designs. It was Miska who came up with the later Eagle design seen in Dallas, Toronto and Florida that had the hidden e-a-g-l-e letters hidden in the feather design. As much as I love that version of the mask (I love them all), I think Belfour’s first mask painted by Harrison is the most iconic. As a youth goalie in Chicago it was the mask all the kids wanted, and is still one you see replicated by beer league goalies today.
What 1990’s masks are on your top 10 list?