Who’s Behind This Mask?
The legendary Montreal Candiens goalie was not the first to use a mask for protection, but Jacques Plante was the player to introduce the goalie mask as everyday equipment. Before Plante, the only goalie previously to wear a mask was the Montreal Maroons’ Clint Benedict who wore one briefly in 1930 to protect a broken nose.
This Associated Press photo was taken January 23, 1948 when Plante was just 19-years-old. He was playing organized hockey for the Quebec Citadelles and was still five years away from his NHL debut with the Canadiens.
This leather and fiber mask Plante wore in 1948, was used only in practices because there were so many pucks coming at him at once.
Plante first donned a mask in a game on November 1, 1959 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Plante was struck on the left side of his nose and upper lip in the first period on a shot from Andy Bathgate. The game was delayed 20 minutes as Plante left the ice, received seven stitches and returned wearing a plexiglass mask (not the one seen in the photo above).
Montreal coach Toe Blake, a traditionalist, had been an ardent opponent of Plante wearing a mask. Continue reading