Monday, May 14, 2012

Masked Men: Big Screen "Goalies"

To non-hockey fans when someone says goalie mask, what is the first thing they think of?

Does Crystal Lake even have a hockey team?
Yes that's right.  That horrible kid swimmer, turned machete wielding un-killable brut that we all know as Jason.  He's single-handely brought the goalie mask to the mainstream, probably more so than any other pro hockey player ever has.  It all started when the guys behind the movie wanted a new look for the previously bag headed Jason...enter Martin Jay Sadoff.  He was the 3D effects supervisor (for Part III, which in every series turns into the 3D one...) and also a huge hockey fan.  He had a bag of hockey equipment and pulled out a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask (Hockeytown even dictates the direction horror icons take!).  It was remolded and fitted for the actor and the rest is history.

The original mask as seen in Part III
I never really grew up on the Friday the 13th series, and even when I did become a horror fan my favorite "slasher" icon was Michael Myers.  Which has nothing to do with hockey so moving right along...

So what is the point of this blog?  Well to discuss my origin for the love of the game, and my fascination with the goalie mask.  I've already pointed out that Jason brought the goalie mask to the big screen, but it was another mask that caught my attention as a kid that led to my fascination of the goalie mask.

Ladies and gentlemen, a blast from the past...

Now I realize I might be losing some of you readers right now, but I hope that the ones around my age 25-30 are being hit in the face by the nostalgic beast that is the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  I recently re-watched this (which was great fun) and realized that all this obsession with the goalie mask had little to do with watching NHL games as a kid, but from the masked vigilante Casey Jones.  Which probably seems insane being a huge hockey fan now, but seeing a character like this as a kid was awesome!  Before I ever saw Jason, I saw Casey high sticking and slashing punks and "lawbreakers" on the big screen and on the TV screen in the original cartoon series.

Plus the mask was really cool looking!

Hence the reason why it's my profile pic!

Now in the movie (which I remember him best) he was played by Elias Koteas (as fun a performance you'll ever see) and is a former hockey pro turned vigilante.  So there's a reason for the mask...and keeps this blog still having a hockey vibe...kindof.  In the movie whenever he showed up, he was always doing something badass!  He also got the girl in the end!  He was full of one liners, and he became a great friend to the turtles.  In the movie he talks about having to end his career after suffering an never really goes into details about who he played for, or what position...but me being a Red Wings fan, lets pretend he was the craziest Red Wings goalie the NHL ever saw.

What I always liked was in the original cartoon series he NEVER took off the mask.  Which I always found funny.  Even when he went on a job interview (note to self...).  I mean, he LOVED that mask.

Another thing I always loved was he was always spouting sports references.  As seen here in his introduction in the original movie.  He became a fan favorite to TMNT fans, along with the movies and tv shows, has been in comics (where he was originally introduced and created by Kevin Eastman) and had countless toys made in his likeness.  He is also scheduled to be in the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie (scheduled for a 2013 release).  One of the coolest things a fellow fan did was actually create a fan film based on Casey Jones!  You can watch the movie here.  That's dedication, and pretty cool if you ask me.

This might be worth something now...
Shout out to Polaris Banks, director of the fan film.
Anyway I thought it'd be fun to reminisce about the birth of my goalie mask obsession, which however weird has led me to admiring the sport and the men and women who stand guard between the crease.

"Wayne Gretzky...on steroids?!"
So reminisce with me in the comments!  Let me know who got you started with the obsession of the mask?  the position? the game?  And let me know if you grew up with Casey Jones like I did!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Masked Men: The Phantom of the Crease

“There are a lot of very good goalies, there are even a fair number of great goalies. But there aren’t many important goalies. And Jacques Plante was an important goalie.” Ken Dryden

Today's vintage goalie mask, is THE vintage goalie mask. While Plante wasn't the first to wear a mask, (Clint Benidict did to protect a broken nose for 5 games), he was the first to introduce it as regular equipment and continued to work on and perfect the mask the rest of his career. 

Hmm...Clint's interesting first attempt.
The story goes...on November 1st, 1959 Jacques Plante skated into the crease to play the New York Rangers...3 minutes into the game he took a puck to the face, slicing a cut open that went from the corner of his mouth to the bottom of his nostril, and breaking his nose. 21 minutes later Jacques Plante emerged from the locker room wearing a mask that looked like it belonged as a prop on the Phantom of the Opera. 

The Habs won the game 3-1. Plante's coach make him promise that he'd discard the mask after the cut healed, he didn't and won 18 in a row. Finally Plante's coach made him take the mask off and they lost the game that night 3-0 against Detroit. The mask returned for good the next night, and the Habs won their 5th straight Stanley Cup that year.  The NHL would never be the same...

The Phantom of the Crease.
The era of the mask had begun, and no longer was it seen as a "sign of weakness" although some held out and never donned the signature piece of equipment, others saw it's usefulness.  Plante's impact on the game of hockey and especially his beloved position can not be overstated.  

Josh Harding pays tribute to the greats...there's Plante's above the eye.
The mask wasn't the only "first" or innovation he brought to the position and to the NHL.  He was the first goalie to play the puck outside of his crease, which would help aid defencemen.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, his number (1) was later retired by the Canadiens as well as being named the goaltender on their "Dream Team".  Plante would go on to become a mentor and idol for future goalies, and continue to work at perfecting and protecting the faces of sport's most important position.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Here are some more of his masks...a true innovator and icon.

HOF: The "Pretzel" Mask

HOF: Another classic
I'll leave you with one more picture.  One of my favorites of Plante or any goalie.  The picture says it all, the unbeatable concentrated stare, the posture, the mask...

This had to have been a terrifying sight for ANY shooter.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Masked Men-An Era of Intimidation and Art

I’m a fan of hockey, and more specifically what I think is the hardest position in sports, the goalie.  I also think that while the goalie masks of today are awesome, the masks of yesterday are true works of art and intimidation.  So every so often I write about some of my favorites and the men behind the masks.  Here are a few of my favorites...don't worry I'll post others on a more regular basis as well!

Bernie Parent on the cover of TIME
This one is one of the most intimidating and scary in my opinion. It was worn famously by both Bernie Parent and later Pelle Lindbergh (both Flyers). The mask itself has an open canvass, which means anything can be projected on it, much like the infamous Michael Myers mask. Just look at it! All you get is the eyes (in the picture it’s Bernie Parent). And unlike the famous Jason Voorhees mask, this one is more angled and gives it a more angry vibe. Even with all the talented airbrushed artists out there, I have yet tosee a mask more intimidating today. Pelle’s story is a great but also sadly tragic one. Imagine your favorite team, position and player growing up…now imagine that you get drafted by that team, play that position and are coached by that favorite player of yours! That was Pelle’s path to stardom and greatness (drafted as the Flyers goalie and coached and befriended by Bernie Parent). He went on to win the Vezina Trophy in 1985, won the Bronze at the 1980 Olympics for Sweden, and holds to distinction as being the only goalie NOT to lose to the famed 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” team that year. Sadly he died in 1985 after sustaining injuries in a horrendous car crash. He was kept alive long enough for his organs to be donated which his coach at the time called “the greatest save” a goalie could make. He was then the first player posthumously chosen for an All-Star game in North American sports that year. 

You are officially intimidated...just try to score on Pelle.

Another great vintage goalie mask. This one belongs to Gerry Cheevers. The cool thing about this mask is, every "stitch" that you see was painted on after that certain part of the mask was hit with a puck, stick or just beat up somehow. Wow, and to think goalies used to NOT wear masks.
Cheevers' "scars"

Cheevers in the crease.
In honor of the next round of the NHL Playoffs and the Rangers advancing, here's a nod to a legend of the NHL (and ex-NY Ranger) Gilles Gratton. Although he only played about 46 games in the NHL, he was very talented his "legend status" really came from his eccentric personality...supposedly hanging out after practice naked (and skating naked during one), talking in great detail about his past lives (he had been a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition), growling and hissing at opposing players who got to close to him, and most famously refusing to play if the moon was in the wrong part of the sky. 

But to me, he is awesome for coming up with probably the coolest mask the NHL has ever seen. The "Tiger Mask".  Listen to the man tell the story of the "birth" of the tiger (mistakenly thought to be a lion by many) and Madison Square Garden's response at it's unveiling.

*growling/hissing noises*

MORE TO COME SOON!  Including the Holy Grail of masks...