The Goalie Mask is 50

Yesterday was Halloween, and today is the 50th anniversary of when Jacques Plante first wore a goalie mask in a game–November 1, 1959.

What is ironic about these two days being back-to-back is that the classic, “Jason-style” goalie mask will forever be associated with Halloween (the holiday, not the movie).

“Really, are we all that different…?”

The fiberglass goalie masks worn by guys like Plante, Tony Esposito and Gerry Cheevers was phased out during the 1980s, and pretty much gone by 1990. Sam St. Laurent was the final guy in the NHL to wear the fiberglass “face” mask, last appearing for the Red Wings in 14 games during the 1989-90 season.

Yet, the very same classic goalie mask still “means” hockey–even though it was last used in the NHL 20 years ago. Most goalies started to change over to helmets during the early-to-mid 1980s, after Bernie Parent sustained a career-ending eye-injury in 1979.

Though no longer used in hockey, the classic goalie mask continues to be a symbol of Halloween. Worn by Jason Vorhees in the “Friday the 13th” series of movies, the plain white goalie mask remains a staple for people who don’t want to put a lot of thought into dressing up once a year–never mind the fact that those films, like the mask itself, have not been relevant since the 1980s.

Get some black clothes, a $5 toy mask and a machete (prop or otherwise) and you’ve got the lazy man’s Halloween costume. 97 out of 100 people will get it (the other 3 will think you’re a zombie Pelle Lindbergh).

Fitting to both Halloween and the anniversary of the goalie mask, the Chicago Blackhawks gave out a Halloween-inspired mask to fans who attended their game on October 30. I think Wayne and Garth would approve.

No, not that Wayne and Garth.

“Game on!”

By the way, here’s a cool article about one of the last goalies to go without a mask.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

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