The Goalie Mask
Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 4:56 PM ET
Goalie masks are a unique piece of art. No two are exactly alike, but that hasn't always been the case. Prior to 1968, masks were all the same. That is, until Boston Bruins goaltender Gerry Cheevers began adding "stiches" to his mask everytime he was hit in the face with a shot, to mark where he would have been cut.
Today, each mask is custom painted, giving a goaltender his identity.
"That's why a lot of young kids become goalies," said Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. "I know that's why I became a goalie, is because I loved the equipment and I loved the masks. It just gives you an opportunity to let your personality show by doing something a little different than everyone else."
"I usually go with a tribute to the veterans, the military and the fire department, but last year with my injury, I had to switch things up," DiPietro said. "I became pretty comfortable with the new one and a lot of people have commented that they like the look."
Going with this type of mask is somewhat of a tribute to Chris Osgood, an NHL veteran and former New York Islanders goaltender.
"Ozzy was great when he was here," DiPietro said. "He's not only a great goalie, but he's a fantastic guy. So everyone says that I look like Ozzy with the mask, and that's not a bad thing. I'll take a couple of those Stanley Cups."
DiPietro said he even has another mask in the works.
"If I decide to change, my new mask will be a tribute to the troops and the New York fire department, police department, POWs, MIAs. My dad is a Vietnam Vet, he flew helicopters, so there will be a helicopter on there."
He added, "It's just a way to keep the men and women who are fighting for us, not only in the past, but today, in our minds and in our hearts, just to let them know how much we appreciate what they do."
"My mask doesn't really have a story. Twelve years ago, the guy (who was painting my mask) asked me what I wanted and I said I didn't know," Nabokov said. "I told him I wanted something cool, something different, and he came up with the style."
"Initially, the monster was ripping the fish head and blood was dripping with Sharks coming up from the bottom. I liked the idea, so I kind of stayed with that and changed it up a bit when I got here."
Though Nabokov said he doesn't really have a story about the goulish creature on his mask, the back plate holds a lot of significance.
"On the back plate, there are names of some really important people who have since passed away," Nabokov said. "When I first came to North America, they helped me a lot. My goalie coach, Warren Strelow and a woman named Anna Gorouven, who helped me with all off ice stuff. We became really good friends. Unfortunately they've both passed away. My kids (Andrei and Emily) names are on there as well."
When it comes to the design, Montoya was very vocal about what he was looking for.
"I wanted to be original as well as incorporate the Island theme," Montoya said. "I know people didn't really like the fisherman, but I talked with the artist I had and we thought if he could make a cool fisherman, it would look really nice. So he put the Captain on one side, with a nautical compass, anchor and chain, which I thought was really cool. I also wanted a lighthouse."
On the back plate, Montoya incorporated a lot of personal history, including the initials of his parents, his brothers and his wife.
"On the back plate, I've always had a character smoking a cigar," Montoya said. "I also wanted to represent the University of Michigan (with the M on the cigar) and Team USA (the moon's bandana). I've had the 'Big Cubano', which has stuck with me since the day I was drafted."
Poulin's new mask is still at the painter, but he's going with the same theme as last year.
"My helmet is a tribute to the Islanders," Poulin said. "I have Mike Bossy and Billy Smith pictured on one side with the logo on the other. On the back plate there is a picture of the Canadian flag, representing where I'm from."
|"My painter in Sweden came up with the design," Koskinen said. "He had a few new ideas this year and I just let him go with it. I like it more than last year. I like the white cage."|
|"It's always fun to do something different with your mask from year to year," Nilsson said. "With this mask, I decided to go pretty simple and keep it with the Islanders theme."
Nilsson added, "I wanted to have a lot of small New York Islanders logos, but after talking to my painter back home in Sweden, he thought it would look better simplified. I also wanted glitter, so it's a basic idea, but it turned out cool."