Goalie masks in the NHL are unique. They are a form of art that often expresses the personality on the goaltender and often look pretty sweet. A goalie mask can take months to create as the helmet is carefully detailed and painted. But the finished piece of work is awesome. So I bring to today the top ten goalie masks in the NHL. The best ones are not only awesome in look but also because of the meaning behind them.
First off are a few honorable mentions.
Peter Budaj (Colorado Avalanche)
As you can see, Budaj has two different masks above but the back piece is the same. It’s Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. Somehow Budaj picked up the nickname Ned, so Mr. Flanders is dressed in a Slovakian jersey and holding a Slovakian flag representing Budaj’s heritage.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Fleury’s mask is based of Stephan Fiset’s, a former goalie whom Fleury liked. The blocks on the mask represent an igloo with a penguin bursting through at the top. The initials EFGT are on the back representing the first names of all four grandparents that have passed away.
Now onto the top ten.
10. Nikolai Khabibulin (Chicago Blackhawks)
Khabibluin’s mask is a creation from his home country, Russia. The tower is the clock tower of the Kremlin and the eagle comes from Russian coat of arms. The wall pictured is similar to that of the Pink Floyd wall and of course represents his nickname, the Bulin Wall. Finally, there is a Russian flag pictured on the back.
9. Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose Sharks)
While there isn’t much meaning behind this mask, Nabokov thinks it looks cool, which it certainly does. His kids’ names are on the back along with two other close friends who have passed away, including his former goalie coach.
8. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
It’s Miller Time! While the design on the front is fairly simple (the Sabres logo), the meaning is all on the back. The words “Matt Man” remember Miller’s cousin who beat leukemia but passed away following a bone marrow transplant. The bulldog is the animal Matt wanted to be represented as and it dressed in green and white for Michigan State, Miller’s alma matter. The Lizard on the top left on the back represents how Miller wants to play on the ice. He says lizards don’t think, they just react.
7. Martin Biron (Philadelphia Flyers)
Marty Biron’s mask is sort of a tribute to the Canadian Outdoors. After Biron’s middle name, the Lumberjack is called the Great Gaston. Biron says the Lumberjack looks mean, but that is the opposite of his personality. Looks sweet nevertheless.
6. Dan Ellis (Nashville Predators)
The colors of Ellis’s mask are pretty cool. The mask goes along with the theme of the city of Nashville. There are three Saber tooth tigers throughout the mask, the Predators logo. He also has the “Batman Building” and Sommet Center Tower on there from downtown Nashville. On the back he has a cross for his late uncle and his name.
5. Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders)
DiPierto’s mask is pretty sweet on many levels. First off, the colors and layout of the mask are great. Then there is the meaning; it represents the armed forces. His father was a Vietnam Veteran, which was the inspiration behind the mask. His father was a helicopter pilot and the helicopter in the left picture obviously represents that. As for the pictures of the men, one of them has got to be father.
4. Antero Nittymaki (Philadelphia Flyers)
This is the most badass mask in the NHL. Nittymaki earned the nickname Frank from former coach Ken Hitchcock after the mobster Frank Nitti. When Nittymaki wanted his mask created, he told the creator to “cook something up.” And that’s exactly what he did. The Mobster Frank Nitti shooting a smoking machine gun. Completely awesome.
3. Manny Legace (St. Louis Blues)
While Legace’s mask is quite simple, it probably has the most influential meaning of any other NHL mask. “United We Stand” probably says it all; it’s a 911 tribute. Legace honors all the men and women overseas fighting for our country and in Canada, his home country. The numbers on the side of the mask represent all of the retired numbers by the St. Louis Blues, stating that those are the players that paved the way enabling him to play.
2. Marty Turco (Dallas Stars)
Turco likes to change up his masks A LOT. This one of just many, all with the same gargoyle theme. The mask just looks awesome though. Turco says he likes the gargoyle theme because they are keepers or guardians and that’s exactly what he does. He guards the Dallas Stars net. But he seems to be having a bit of trouble doing so this year.
1. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks)
Who else should lead the way than Captain Canuck? Luongo says he has always liked Johnny Canuck, the dude on his mask. The rest of the mask is to symbolize the city of Vancouver and the surrounding environment. The colors were chosen to match the new Canucks Jerseys which don’t look bad themselves. And then of course there’s the ‘C’ on his chip, showing that he is the captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
So there you have it, the top ten masks in the NHL. But now I’d like to completely shred and rip apart Kari Lehtonen’s mask. Not only does it suck, but he has two mythical, cartoonish figures with swords on each side of the helmet. Then to make it even worse, Lil Jon is pictured on the back. So this is why he is such a sucky goalie….
NHL Goalie Masks