NHL on TSN and ask: Who has the best mask? Staff

10/21/2009 12:10:21 PM

On Nov. 1, 1959, the goaltending position in the National Hockey League was forever changed when Montreal's Jacques Plante debuted the first goalie mask in a regular season game.

The story of Plante's mask really began prior to the debut game. Plante developed and tested a plastic mask in practice and in preseason games, and wanted to use it in regular-season matches. Alas, Canadiens head coach Toe Blake prohibited him from wearing it for fear that it would limit his vision of the play. On Nov. 1, in a game against the New York Rangers, Plante was hit in the face by a shot from Andy Bathgate and required seven stitches to close cuts to his nose and lip. There was a 20-minute delay of game while the repairs took place and Plante refused to return to the ice unless he could wear his mask to protect the injuries.

Not having a back-up goalie, Blake was forced to either agree or forfeit the game - and allowed Plante to wear his white mask. Plante finished the game with 27 saves and the Canadiens beat the Rangers 3-1.
Plante continued to wear the mask for the rest of the season, and played very well while doing it. His success in goal combined with the enhanced safety he enjoyed soon inspired other goalies to adopt masks as well.
Fifty years later, the mask has evolved to become not just a key standard for the safety of goalies at every level, but it has also made a mark as a colourful statement of personal taste for the men behind the mask.
Now, to celebrate the half-century since Plante's pioneering contribution to the game, the NHL on TSN and want you to decide who has the best mask in today's NHL.
We have selected one goalie from each of the 30 clubs as candidates for the big prize. Your task is to look through our photo gallery - which features three shots of each goalie and his mask- and vote for your pick for who has the best face-guard in the league.
The results will be announced during the NHL on TSN broadcast on Wednesday, Oct. 28 when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Dallas Stars (8pm et/5pm pt).
So who has today's best mask? Is it Martin Brodeur? Kari Lehtonen? Pekka Rinne?
Check out our gallery and vote now!

Click on the image below to see the gallery.