Intimidating goalie masks

Backstrom gives his fans a glimpse of his wild side with a pair of green jaguars roaring on a black field painted on his hockey mask. On either side of the mask are black feathers which overlap different symbols of Native American heritage. Music notes, identical to the team's logo, can be seen falling out of the painted tears on the right side of his mask, while the edges of a larger note poke out of similar tears on the left side. Black Beard is still the main image on the side of the mask, with his nickname Wardo printed on the chin strap. If you look closer you can see the blue prints for the transforming robot known as Optimus Prime, or should we say Optimus Reim. Even though hockey is traditionally a winter sport, you can never go wrong with sandy beaches, palm trees and flaming tiki men. The left side has a simple and traditional team logo.

Crawford's play on Chicago's team logo is similar to the mask he wore last season, but it still makes for a very artistic piece. Halak went for some what of a different approach to his goalie mask. The black and gold colouring which help represents the Duck's hockey arena, on the right side, and the California's surfer lifestyle, on the left, this mask is totally unique. Ward's mask may have a lot stuff going on, but it hasn't changed too much. Although it is hard to tell, Reimer's mask is not as simple as giant white Maple Leaf's logo that cover most of the mask. Rinne's well known alien predator mask has been replaced with a particularly possessed looking voodoo doll chewing through the straps of this brilliantly coloured mask. While Lundqvist highlighted his adopted city of New York, this year the Swedish goaltender chose to showcase actresses Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman and director Ingmar Bergman who are silverscreen legends from his homeland. Although it is hard to tell in this photo Howard's mask is a homage to the beautiful Detroit skyline and to Rusland Salei, Stefan Liv and former coach Brad Mc Drimmon who all died in a tragic plane crash that killed nearly all of the members of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on Sept. One neat thing to mention is how the designer almost seamlessly blended a set of shark jaws around the opening for the face. Anderson has quite a contrast admist the many red Canadian maple leafs that cover his mask.

That happened when I was 8, as I rode my bike around town with no helmet and was driven to school without the mandatory use of seat belts.

However, all of the other NHL goalies not named Andy Brown did wear facial protection and few sporting artifacts meant more to me as a child than the early NHL goalie mask.

All of these sticks and bones gave the game ferocity and a uniqueness that couldn't be matched.

Football in the 1970s was tough, but these toothless hockey guys had blades on their feet and sticks in their hands. That included goaltender Andy Brown, who was the last goaltender to play in an NHL net without a goalie mask.

The focus of any list of best-ever goalie masks typically is about the artwork, not the actual mask.

One of the indelible images from my youth is witnessing a bench-clearing brawl at a minor league game involving the Johnstown Jets.

But they do still give goalies a rare opportunity to personalize a piece of their equipment and reveal a bit of themselves.

So, we pay homage to 50 years of common sense, survival and an every-night-is-Halloween party on my hockey mask.

Sillouettes of cowboys can be seen on the side of the mask, with promminent golden lettering spelling out the team name to match the golden stars on his chin strap.

I grew up in small-town America, living and loving just about every athletic contest.

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