Sunday, March 13, 2011

Goalie Tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame

In December 2009, the folks over at Tender's Lounge wrote an article titled Goalie Tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I recently took a tour of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and since I was pressed for time I decided to make it a goalie-specific tour.  If you haven’t made it to the HHOF then I strongly recommend you scrounge up your pennies for a trip to Toronto to see this shrine to everything hockey.

Masks – Grand Entrance

This will be the best part of the tour for any goalie… and technically it’s free! The grand entrance to the HHOF takes you past a number of display cases showing off the best and most important goalie masks in NHL history. This display is the best way for NHL goalies to make it to the HHOF without having a Hall of Fame career!

You have to walk past this display, as well as a pretty impressive puck collection, to get to the ticket cashier so if you really wanted to you could see the masks without paying a dime. This is like having the Mona Lisa on display in the entrance to the Louvre!

Not the original mask worn by Jacques Plante but the one he considered his favorite. An upgrade from his original solid fiberglass mask, this model allowed much-needed ventilation. He continued to build upon the pretzel concept in the years to come.

In an interview with the NHL Network commemorating the 50th anniversary of Plante first wearing a mask Ken Dryden said this mask, worn at Cornell and during his first couple years as a pro, was his favorite since it was truest to Plante’s original full-time mask.

Tony Esposito? Nope... Jacques Plante! The pretzel design was clearly Plante's favorite, and even though it was Esposito who made the style famous it was a Plante design.

Eddie Giacomin was one of the first goalies to add some color and decoration to his mask. I'm not sure if that's a jolt of electricity, a fuzzy eyebrow or a stylized Red Wing!

Rogie Vachon wore this mask as a rookie with the Canadiens and when he first landed in Los Angeles (after Dryden's arrival booted him out of Montreal). He later switched to his better known purple smiley face mask.

This Gilles Meloche mask was truly a work of art and probably the best thing ever produced by the Cleveland Barons.

Gary Simmons' classic cobra mask, derived from his nickname. Check out the old bow-legged pads from the way he leaned on them. Truly old school!

Perhaps the centerpiece of the HHOF's mask collection, the famous Gilles Gratton lion mask. Gratton would sometimes growl from beneath it during faceoffs in his end.

I used to draw this mask as a kid! Ron Low honored America's bicentennial with this mask from the Capitals' very early days.

Mike Palmateer's style of play and his mask made him my favorite goalie when I was a kid, so seeing his mask on my way into the HHOF just gets my heart pumping for what lies ahead!

Yves Belanger spent the latter part of the 70's bouncing up and down between the minors and the NHL but his burning mask lives forever in the HHOF.

Steve Baker's short stint with the Rangers from 1979 to 1982 earned him a spot on the US squad in the 1981 Canada Cup. In a post-9/11 world his mask is a lasting tribute to the city of New York.

Billy Smith's biggest NHL achievements came while wearing a plain white helmet and cage but earlier in his career he sported a much more colorful Islanders mask.
If not for this mask Murray Bannerman would simply be the answer to the trivia question "who replaced Tony Esposito has the Hawks #1 goalie?" But this literal interpretation of the Hawks' logo not only provided a template for future Chicago goalies but ensured Bannerman a spot on the list of greatest masks in history.

Grant Fuhr went through a variety of mask styles in his first few years in Edmonton, and then again when he switched to the combo (not to mention switching teams) but this is the most memorable.

Pelle Lindbergh grew up idolizing Bernie Parent so he wore the exact same style mask. Lindbergh was one of the last goalies to wear the full fiberglass mask so I've always wondered how long he would have resisted the change to the cage if not for his tragic car accident.

Click on the link at the top of the entry for the full article.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome stuff. I've only been to the HHOF once and it was before I realized just how cool goalie masks were. I have yet to truly appreciate that aspect of the shrine.

    The 'sparks' on the Giacomin mask was actually advertisement for Champion Spark Plugs. The NHL nixed the idea pretty quickly and Eddie had to nix the design from his mask.

    The Meloche is one of my all-time favorites. Just a gorgeous design.