Revisiting the 20 coolest Goalie Masks from the Winter Classic
By Chris Ostrander
This is an update version of a post I originally ran prior to the Rangers vs. Flyers Winter Classic in 2012. While the unfortunate cancellation of last year’s Classic caused us to wait on any sort of new equipment for the goalies involved, it appears that each goalie who will be appearing in the 2014 Winter Classic will have some sort of special gear for the event.
Buffalo - December 31, 2013 - This is an update version of a post I originally ran prior to the Rangers vs. Flyers Winter Classic in 2012. While the unfortunate cancellation of last year’s Classic caused us to wait on any sort of new equipment for the goalies involved, it appears that each goalie who will be appearing in the 2014 Winter Classic will have some sort of special gear for the event.
Should the goaltenders involved in the Stadium Series games decide to wear special gear, I’ll attempt to provide consistent updates. However, with the league going with more of a futuristic look, I don’t anticipate seeing anything like you see for the Winter Classic.
The rankings have been updated to reflect the gear being worn for the showdown at The Big House and I did also include Carey Price’s awful mask from the 2011 Heritage Classic.
Aside from the event itself, the best part of the Winter Classic each season is the different gear the goalies sport. It has become something of a yearly tradition with many goalies deciding to wear new pads along with their commemorative paintjobs.
The easiest and most common change is to simply get a special paint job done for the day. Few goalies have decided against any sort of change for the Winter Classic as most have a new mask painted for them at the very least. While there has been a handful to make no change between the NHL’s Winter and Heritage Classics, here is a ranking of those goalies to wear special equipment for the events.
1. Henrik Lundqvist takes the cake for his mask and gear set up for the 2012 Classic. He went with a full makeover, sporting some vintage white pads and a new paintjob. The pads are only so-so, but the paintjob is phenomenal. The worn look on the mask and cage make this look perfect. A+ for the design and execution.
3. Dany Sabourin didn’t get to see the ice in the original Winter Classic. Had he played better leading up to the game, everyone would have been treated to his phenomenal throwback set up. The pads perfectly compliment the unique helmet. The paintjob isn’t as outstanding as the first two on this list, but the full look gets him in the top-five.
4. Tim Thomas went with a pretty basic look for 2010. His pads remained but he had a commemorative paintjob done up. It was well executed and the Bruins portion looks great from a distance and up close. The eye black helped too.
5. Top marks to Jimmy Howard and his Winter Classic mask. Ray Bishop does some excellent work and I love Howard’s mask. It’s clean, simple and works perfectly with the throwback uniform motif. He also has a nifty Santa mask but I doubt we see that on the 1st.
6. Cristobal Huet could have gotten bonus points for his pads had he not worn them for the first half of the season. However, his special edition helmet looked awesome. A great paintjob incorporating the Wrigley marquee and the “Go Hawks” written on a car windshield (not pictured).
7. Brent Johnson had a great set up for the 2011 classic. His pads and mask worked perfectly with the special uniforms. A well done setup that trumped the starter’s look.
8. Ilya Bryzgalov’s best mask for the 2012-13 was barely been worn. His tiger helmet looks strange compared to the solid white-based lid he sported early on. His Winter Classic mask is busy, but an ode to Philly sports history. It looks great and is well executed, especially considering how much is going on the helmet. Add in his vintage Vaughn pads (and sick gloves) and you have a winner.
9. Ryan Miller’s pads matched the uniforms the Sabres chose to utilize in 2008, so he didn’t need to make a change in that regard. His paint job looked cool, despite being partially covered. He gets points here for the paintjob and the use of the hockey sock hat. Those two combined sneak him into the top ten.
10. I’ll give the overall edge on Toronto Winter Classic masks to James Reimer. Despite some cool features on Bernier’s mask, the blue cage just doesn’t do it for me. I love the sock stripes on the background of Reimer’s mask and the overall design looks great.
11. Martin Biron chose to honor Gilles Gratton with his design for the 2012 classic. His brown Bauer pads will look great with the vintage uniform and the helmet. It’s a classic design that unfortunately wasn’t seen on the ice.
12. A very basic design for Jonas Gustavsson’s Classic Mask. I like the use of the vintage white and the lines are all clean. No complaints in any sense for this mask but his pads are kind of average for a vintage colored set. Credit for Petr Mrazek’s wintry pads even if they don’t see any action in the NHL game.
13. Michal Neuvirth had the better of the two helmets in the Washington Capitals locker room too. The white based design looked great and had all the right elements. A well done design for sure.
14. Jonathan Bernier’s Maple Leafs Mask is pretty solid. DaveArt rarely misses the mark with his work. The overall look of the mask is cool, although I’m not fond of the painted cage one bit. It looks out of place and I could’ve done without it.
15. If Marc Andre Fleury wore his most recent alternate mask and pads in 2011, he would be the runaway winner. Sadly, he didn’t have those at his disposal then. The mask design looked good, but didn’t come close to matching the jerseys they wore at Heinz Field.
16. Ty Conklin went with a special design on his helmet in 2008, he chose against it in 2009. However, the paintjob looked pretty good for the original classic. He would have been higher had he scored bonus points for matching gear.
17. Semyon Varlamov’s helmet design was painted by Dave Gunnarson, the same artist who did the work on many masks on this list. The design isn’t bad, but it looks like a helmet you would find in Dick’s. It certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Neuvirth’s.
18. Sergei Bobrovsky’s mask for the 2012 Winter Classic was somewhat similar to Lundqvist’s but didn’t offer the same wow factor. Here are his pads for the game that weren’t used.
20. Marc-Andre Fleury is the only goalie to appear on the list twice. Again, his gear from last year was great and the helmet was pretty well done, just not great. However, his helmet from 2008 looked silly. The enormous 29 on the right side looked out of place while the Pens logo on the left just couldn’t make up for the number. An average design, at least no one needed to see it during the game.
Okay, one more...
21. Carey Price’s mask for the 2011 Heritage Classic was all sorts of creepy and awful. I understand the look he was going for, but it just failed on so many levels. I blame the eyes. Price, however, was the only goalie in that game to don any sort of special equipment. So good on him for that.
Chris Ostrander is a 2008 graduate of John Carroll University where he played all four seasons with JCU's ACHA hockey team. After graduation Chris spent the 2008-09 season with the Buffalo Sabres organization working for the Sabres and Buffalo Bandits (indoor lacrosse) Public Relations department. After his time with the Sabres, Chris worked with NBC's hockey coverage for the 2010 Olympic games prior to his current role as the Public Relations Director for the American Collegiate Hockey Association. He runs the Sabres, Bills and Buffalo-centric blog Two in the Box. If you have questions or wish to contact Chris, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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