Kukla's Korner Hockey
by lsefton on 08/29/11 at 03:48 PM ET
It looks like we’re coming to the end of the Summer Season—how else can you explain a week where one of the major NHL stories includes a corn maze in New Hampshire set up to look like Tim Thomas?
There’s first hints that the goalies are awakening : Bryzgalov says he’ll win 40 games for Philly, and if he does so, his backup is going to learn to have some fine penmanship from taking on the clipboard for the season. Neuvirth thinks he can be the #1 goaltender in Washington, and he might make it interesting—Vokoun has a few years on him, and it’s uncertain how much tread is left on his tires. Vokoun didn’t play for a shining example of excellent hockey this past season, but there were signs that he was on the wrong side of his career curve in Nashille. However, if he lives up to his old nickname of "Hasek Lite", he might still have a few tricks left in him. I think Washington would be just as happy to have a problem with which hot goalie to play on any given night.
And Chris Mason arrives in Winnipeg with a shiny new mask. That’s one of perqs of being a goalie, says Mason (Winnipeg Free Press):
"It’s one of the best things about being a goalie — you get into design cool masks like this," said Mason, who first came up with some ideas and began trading them with Nash. "We talked back and forth and then he sketched out some stuff and I thought it was awesome."
And it is indeed a cool looking mask. Ever since Cheevers started drawing stitches on his mask, goalies have been adding a little someting extra, or in the case of Gilles Gilbert, a whole lot of something extra. And a lot of goalies, like Mason, keep a theme going across a number of teams. Eddie’s Eagle was painted on colors all over the Pantone charts. Patrick Lalime’s mask had Marvn the Martian glaring out,, no matter which arena Lalime was calling home. Hedberg’s Moose has gone to places no Moose has set foot before. And Cujo’s mask foamed at the mouth from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
And then there’s Antero Niittymaki. He’s the one withe the gangsters on the mask, obstensibly because of a remark by Hitchcock that led to Niittymaki being nicknamed "Frank". So, Niittymaki did what anyone who didn’t have the cultural connection would do—he had Chicago 1920’s gangsters painted on his Philadelphia Flyers mask!
Niittymaki, like a number of Phildelphia goaltenders over the past 15 years, didn’t last long. He was picked up by the Sharks in time for the 2010-2011. So, it was time to trade out orange for teal, and hey, while he was at it, why not have the mask paiinted with shark gangsters? Sounds okay—worked with Flyers.
The Sharks had problems with the guns. Everything else was fine.
So, mask with gangsters—okay.
Mask with gangsters holding guns. Not okay.
I’m going to make a wild guess that there weren’t discussions along the line of: "Okay, switchblades—can they hold switchblades?"
"They’re sharks—why would they have switchblades?"
"Yeah, well, they’re sharks in suits, so go deal."
Can you tell I found the Sharks front office reaction just a bit much?
Question—did the Sharks overreact? How much control should the team have over what’s on the mask? The last time I heard about a problem with a mask was when Emery wore a mask with Mike Tyson on it, and if anyone can still remember back to 2006, it was the kerfluffle of the week on HNIC and other outlets. Emery stopped wearing the mask.
At the other end, we have the early, early years of the Mighty Ducks. Besides deciding that Guy Hebert should now be French, instead of a nice boy from upsatte New York, the masks, even though Hebert had input on the design, was an ad for the team, and very, very Disney. I will give this to Disney—they can market like nobody’s business. But I have a problem with the goalies being turned into mobile billboards for the franchise.
So, where’s the line? How much input should the team or the league have in the design and subject matter on the goalie’s mask? What would you consider okay and not okay on a goalie mask? Should a franchise be able to completely control the look and feel of the mask design?
What are your thoughts?
Add a Comment
Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.
Most Recent Blog Posts
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com