It's no accident that most of those descriptions sound like something out of a horror movie -- Jason wears a goalie mask, after all. Were hockey goalies trying to create an intimidation factor? "Not in the beginning," says Simone. "But I think they started to realize that the mask could distract the shooter. One goalie, I forget who, said, 'When I have a player bearing down on me, I want him to look at my mask instead of the spot he's shooting at.' I think that's when they started designing the eyes and mouth to look more menacing."

The best mask ever, of course, was the one worn by Boston's Gerry Cheevers, whose trainer came up with the idea of inking stitch marks onto the mask each time it was hit by a puck or stick, simulating what Cheevers' face might have looked like in the pre-mask era. "Eventually I think he stopped putting them in the exact spots he'd been hit," says Simone. "It was more like, 'Well, some stitches would look good here, and there's an empty spot here ...'"

Here's Simone's take on some other notable masks from the fiberglass era:

  • Doug Favell: "That was the first painted mask. His teammates snuck into the locker room and painted it orange as a Halloween prank."

  • Glenn "Chico" Resch: "That was the first mask to have a full painted design, complete with the matching team colors." According to Douglas Hunter's "A Breed Apart," the design was the work of "Linda Spinella, a friend of an Islanders trainer studying art in New York. ... Resch let her use his mask as a canvas. Not only did she paint the mask, but also the backplate which was attached to the straps."

  • Ken Dryden: "It's a combination of a pretzel-style mask and a full mask. And you can see, it's been taped near the center, so I don't know if it was cracked or what. Later on he switched to a more conventional mask, with the target design. He used to say the paint job on a goalie mask should be simple, so the people in the cheap seats can see it. That's the problem with a lot of today's masks -- there's so many little details, you can't make it all out even when they show a close-up of it on TV."

  • Corrado Micalef: "He was the last one to wear an old-style fiberglass mask, and he never painted it. Very old-school."

    By the time Micalef's NHL career ended in 1986, most goalies had switched to the birdcage mask -- essentially a standard hockey helmet with facebars on the front -- which provided much better eye protection. Although the birdcage didn't become popular in the NHL until the early 1980s, Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak had worn one in the 1972 Summit Series, which in retrospect was the beginning of the end for the old-style fiberglass mask. A few goalies still wear the birdcage, but most now prefer the mask/cage combo, which is more like a fiberglass mask with the face cut out and replaced by bars. This style has also inspired a new generation of baseball catcher's masks (a story told in greater detail here).



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