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...

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