Best Goalie Masks in History

Hockey goalie masks have changed dramatically over time. Fifty years ago tomorrow was when the first goalie mask was worn in the NHL. It was Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens, after taking yet another bruising puck to the head. Red Fisher describes that night:

“What happened was that 3:06 into the game, Plante had been struck in the face by a short shot from Rangers right-winger Andy Bathgate, opening a deep, seven-stitch cut running from the corner of the goaltender’s lips through his nostril. Then, after a delay of 21 minutes, he returned to the ice wearing a full-face mask – the first goaltender in NHL history to do so.”

To me the best goalie masks are still the ones from the older days. Most had scarier looks and more simple paint jobs. Flipping through the retro goalie masks shown on hockeymasks.com (where, yes, you can order your own replicas!) and found some great ones. Clicking the link will take you to an image of the mask.

Top favourites:

Other notable goalie masks:

Mostly simple white masks, but still awesome:

The masks of today totally don’t compare to those above, in my opinion. Obviously goalie mask design had to change to keep up with harder shots and better sticks – for safety reasons. Unfortunately that took away from some of the sinister look and uniqueness of goalie masks being worn.

Below is the Jacques Plante story, as retold in a Canadian Heritage moment. He had to stand up to coach Toe Blake who wanted no part of him wearing a goalie mask due to reduced visibility.


Some interesting information on the history of the goalie mask, as told by a goalie mask historian.


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