Hockey Hall of Fame's most wanted: Gerry Cheevers' mask

Have you seen Gerry Cheevers' famous mask? Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The hunt for hockey history is on. With assistance from our friends in Toronto, we have started our own search for items on the Hockey Hall of Fame's most wanted list.

We want this to be interactive, so if you know where any of these artifacts are located, or if you've heard rumors of their whereabouts while standing around the skate sharpener, be sure to reach out to me on Twitter @ESPNJoeyMac.

The first few items we're investigating are a rare sweater, a record-breaking stick, a historic, game-winning puck and an iconic goalie mask.

"Our main objective is that [artifacts], once we know about them or find them, are preserved and kept for heritage sake," said Izak Westgate, manager of outreach exhibits and assistant curator at the Hall of Fame in Toronto. "Would it be great to have them in the Hall of Fame, where they can be displayed and shown to everyone? Absolutely. But as long as we know they're out there and someone is keeping it and making sure it'll be in good condition long-term, then really that's the most important thing, whether it's another museum or in someone's special collection who really cares about it. Because you would hate to see -- especially the extremely rare items -- go missing because once they're gone, they're gone forever."

Let the scavenger hunt begin.


The iconic stitches mask of Boston Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers

Replicas hang in bars and man caves all over New England and beyond. Cheevers was with the Bruins for two stints, 1965-72 and 1975-80. He helped the Bruins win a pair of Stanley Cups, in 1970 and 1972, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. However, he's just as famous for his stitches mask.

Cheevers disliked an all-white mask and was always looking for ways to cut practices short. During a practice in the late 1960s, a puck hit him in the mask, so he went to the locker room. Coach Harry Sinden went to check on his goalie, discovered he was fine and told Cheevers to get back on the ice. Before Cheevers returned, however, Bruins team trainer John "Frosty" Forristall painted 10 stitches where Cheevers would have been cut if he hadn't been wearing the mask. The theme stuck, and every time Cheevers took a puck to the mask, Forristall added another stitch mark on it.


"It would definitely be at top of the list," Westgate said. "In terms of the early artwork stage, it would probably be No. 1. It's the [mask] we get asked about the most, and probably part of that being that we don't have one at the Hall of Fame, where we kind of have all the other significant ones through the years: Jacques Plante's first mask, Terry Sawchuk's. The Cheevers' [mask], whether here or not, would definitely be atop the list just because of the unique story behind it and why he painted the stitches on there and how it all worked too."


Cheevers gave the mask to his grandson, who has it hanging on his bedroom wall in South Florida.

"It was my gift to him, so that's the end of my decision with it," Cheevers said in a phone interview. "We've had many an offer for it -- I mean substantial offers -- and we've turned [them] down. I gave it to my daughter for her son, and I haven't thought anything about it. Now, as far as donating it to the Hall of Fame, I've never thought of that because I know they have one of the practice masks or exhibition-game masks. I only used one [mask] my whole career in regular [season] games. There was never any intentions of first of all selling it, and in all honesty, I never thought of donating it to the Hall of Fame. My priorities are with my family."