Bracket season is upon us, and while the Flyers do not look like they will be on a bracket come this April, we have made our own.
Jacques Plante famously was the first goaltender to sport a mask in 1959. Since then masks have grown and changed with the game around it. Gerry Cheevers first decorated his mask, making a mark on it every time a puck struck him in the face; Vladislav Tretiak helped to popularize the cage mask.
We’re all familiar with the famous Flyers goaltender masks of the past, Parent; Lindbergh; Hextall and so on. But how about Beezer or Laforest maybe Hackett or Favell? Today we’re here determine the best mask, worn by a Flyers goaltender.
Michael Leighton vs. Antero Niittymäki
Antero Niittymäki spent parts of 5 seasons minding the Flyers crease, adding a Calder Cup win during the 2004 lockout. His mask featured a gangster theme, with a man dressed in a suit smoking a cigar and firing a Tommy gun. Nittymaki stated during a 2010 interview (with NHL.com) the theme started because “It came from Philly, they called me ‘Frank Nitti’ there” he added They still do. I think Coach [Ken Hitchcock] started it way back. A lot of the fans there really loved it.
2010 is a season, for the most part, Flyers fans love to think about. Michael Leighton, love him or hate him was a large part of that season. During the 2010 Winter Classic Leighton would suit up with this icy mask. The mask showed a snowy Philadelphia skyline.
The clear winner here is Nittymaki, how could you not love a mask with bullet holes on the front?
Brian Boucher Vs Anthony Stolarz
Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh. Just when you thought he was gone for good, Brian Boucher somehow found his way back onto the Flyers roster. The mask Boucher sported here was painted by Franny Drummond who has also painted masks for Steve Mason and Ilya Bryzgalov. The bottom half is occupied by steel and rivets, made to look like an aircraft. While the top is the cockpit, being flown by a man smoking a cigar.
Stolarz is the new kid on the block in our bracket, starting two games this season. His mask features what looks to be fabric burning away to reveal Flyers logos. Iron Man has made appearances the last two years on Stolarz’s cage.
This was close, but the winner has to go to our old favorite Boosh. Better luck next year Stolie!
Rob Zepp Vs Sergei Bobrovsky
We all remember the 33-year-old rookie, Rob Zepp. Zepp also had arguably one of the interesting goalie masks in Flyers history. The left side featured part of an illustration called ‘The Hermit’ created by Barrington Coleby and influenced by Jimmy Page’s favorite tarot card by the same name. The illustration was on the inside cover of Led Zeppelin IV. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones has his stamp at the top of the helmet, which he chose from Rudolf Koch's Book of Signs, the symbol is meant to represent a person who has both confidence and competence. Finally the bottom features his name, in a Led Zeppelin-esque font.
Bobrovsky’s lid does not have as cool of a tale unfortunately. However the mask is appealing to the eyes, with flying jets and a snowy Philadelphia being located on the side. His nickname ‘Bobs’ is spelled across the bottom chin portion of the mask.
Zepp is the clear winner here, how could you not love his mask and story? I guess you can say there might be a Whole Lotta Love.
Jeff Hackett Vs Martin Biron
Jeff Hackett’s tenure as a Flyer was cut short due to his diagnoses of vertigo in 2004. His mask shows Flyers goalie legends Bernie Parent, Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall. Lightning bolts can be seen on the top, and each side of the mask is painted after the facade of the Spectrum.
Marty Biron had the best eyes of any Flyer ever, this however is common knowledge. His mask had a lumberjack, chopping trees down with a hockey stick. The name of this man was the ‘Great Gaston’. The name is after Biron’s middle name ‘Gaston’ which was the name of his god-father. Biron said (in an interview on Rodgers TV) that the Great Gaston ‘was everything I am not’. Along the top of his helmet, fleur de lis’s can be seen, paying tribute to his home providence of Quebec; also paying tribute is the Quebec coat of arms on the chin portion of the mask.
The Great Gaston is the winner here, and just like Hackett’s time with the Flyers his time is short on our list.
John Vanbiesbrouck Vs Antero Niittymäki
You could either love or hate Beezer’s Flyers mask; it is not even in the same conversation as the one he wore while with the Florida Panthers. The mask is straight out of the 90’s with a glittery orange background and a very deformed Flyers logo that makes the early 2000’s 3D logo look good. But there is something about the mask, it is so ugly, its actually beautiful.
Beezer edges out Niittymaki in a close matchup here with the 3D, sparkle orange, lightning, mask, thing.
Doug Favell Vs Pelle Lindbergh
Gary Cheevers was known as the first goaltender to have artwork appear on his mask, but Doug Favell was the first goaltender to appear in game with a painted mask. Just before Haloween of 1977, Favell took a can of orange paint to his mask giving it a festive look. Doug made an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast in October of 2014 (you can listen to the episode here), he mentioned it all started when a team-mate jokingly asked if Favell was going to a Halloween party and was going to dress up. As Doug was leaving, in the morning, he said to trainer Frank Lewis "Frank, with tonight being Halloween, why don't we put orange on the mask? Can you paint orange on the mask? We'll paint it orange like The Great Pumpkin.” Just like that the orange mask was born.
Other than Bernie Parent, Pelle Lindbergh has the most infamous in Flyers history. The similarities between the masks are very easy to spot, and it could be speculated that Pelle modded his mask after Parent. Bernie mentioned in a 1985 New York Times article that “As a human being, he was like a son to me.” Unfortunately Pelle would only wear the mask for five years. One early morning in November of 1985 Lindbergh lost control of his Porsche 930 and struck a wall; ending his life.
Pelle’s sleek and stylish, but yet simple mask is the winner here. While Favell might have been the first to wear a painted mask, it looks nothing more then an orange blob on his face.
Ray Emery Vs Brian Boucher
Razor Ray Emery, like Boucher spent parts of three seasons with the Flyers (09/10 13/14-14/15 15/16). During this time Ray changed his mask up a few times, first wearing a Muhammad Ali themed mask in 2009. There is no major themes on the abve mask, other then of course the Flyers. The mask shows off a very nice looking white Flyers logo with a glowing orange dot. Simple, but yet it is very visually appealing to the eye.
Razor’s mask is simple, but Boucher is the winner here. The jet plane mask is just cooler themed then a basic mask design around the team logo.
Mark Laforest Vs Bernie Parent
Mark Laforest, or as he was known by ‘Trees’ split a total of 38 games with the Flyers over two seasons. His mask was a giant tree, pretty fitting right? The tree stemmed from the center of the mask with Flyers logos as leaves. Now, you the reader, have to admit the coolest thing you’ve ever seen.
Trees’ mask might be the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, but Bernie Parent reigns victorious... well because he’s Bernie Parent.
Ilya Bryzgalov Vs Rob Zepp
Why you heff to be mad? Its only game.
Bryz was a quote machine and an all around lovable guy, that is when he wasn’t throwing the puck into David Clarkson’s legs giving up a goal or ducking his head out of the way of a puck going into the net. Ilya’s time with the Flyers, to put it nicely was a mess. During this time he wore his tiger mask pictures above as well as a Star Wars themed mask. The mask was painted by Stephane Bergeron, from Griff Airbrush and in an interview with In Goal Magazine Bergeron said “Well it’s Bryz’s idea. The tiger is the emblem of Russia, called the Amur.”
Led Zeppelin is pretty damn awesome, this is a fact. But Bryzgalov’s Siberian tiger mask is our winner by just a hair.
Wayne Stephenson Vs Pete Peeters
Certainly one of the most creative masks in Flyers history, Wayne Stephenson. The mask features two Flyers logos mirroring each other with the eye hole in the mask used for the dot in the logo.
Pete Peeters did not record a loss in his first 27 games as a Flyer. During that time he suited up in a plain white mask though. Sometime after he rolled out this mask that looks something like a deformed Batman logo meets a Gulf gas station.
Stephenson’s iconic mirrored Flyer logo mask is the obvious winner here in an almost no contest.
Steve Mason Vs Martin Biron
Steve Mason loves zombies, he also loves to have zombified caricatures of his team mates painted on his mask. Mase has rolled out many versions of his zombie mask during his tenure in Philadelphia, and he likes to have 2-3 different masks to wear each season. The above mask was worn during the 2013/2014 season. An undead, smirking Claude Giroux can be seen on the side with a wide eyes Jake Voracek to the right. The reverse side (not pictures) has Scott Hartnell with a missing mouth and Wayne Simmonds with a beaten up face. Although this could be Simmonds any day of the week, and no before you ask you cannot fight Wayne Simmonds.
If a zombie was to get into a fight with the ‘Great Gaston’, odds are the zombie would be the winner. So, sorry Marty your pictured image of the perfect you does not hold up to Steve Mason’s mask.
Garth Snow Vs Ron Hextall
Garth Snow shared the crease in Philadelphia with Ron Hextall all three seasons he was a Flyer. His mask shows was painted black, with a creature which we can only assume is the half-brother of the abominable snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We’re not sure what Garth was going for here and its a crime that his mask never featured a reference to the only other person in the world named Garth, Garth Algar.
Ron Hextall was an animal, he could score goals, stop goals and he could lay a crushing hit on you. His mask was simple, but just like the rest of him it was badass. An orange arrow is pointing down the center of the mask. Two Flyers logos are near the top at the back of the mask as well.
Hexy is out winner here, and thank fully we didn’t have to see Garth Snow’s abominable mask for that long.
John Vanbiesbrouck Vs Pelle Lindbergh
Vanbiesbrouck’s 90’s Pimp my Ride style mask against Lindbergh’s iconic white mask is a no brainer for us. As mentioned previously Pelle’s mask is sleek and stylish while simple and elegant.
Brian Boucher Vs Bernie Parent
This is the end of the road for Boosh, we’d take Bernie’s classic lid over most masks any day of the week. Twice on Sundays.
Ilya Bryzgalov Vs Wayne Stephenson
Hopefully Bryz won’t be mad with us, this is only a game. Stephenson’s creative mirrored Flyer logo mask is moving on to the next round.
Steve Mason Vs Ron Hextall
Would Steve Mason rather fight one Ron Hextall sized duck or 100 duck sized Ron Hextall’s? Anyway that is a question best left for another day, but to put an end to todays debate of masks Ron Hextall is our winner. Sorry Mase, zombies are cool but Ron Hextall could totally kick all of their asses.
Pelle Lindbergh Vs Bernie Parent
The original meets the influenced. Pelle’s and Bernie’s mask our similar, but nothing beats the original. Both are sleek and simple, but they just work. Bernie is the winner here and is moving onto the Finals.
Wayne Stephenson Vs Ron Hextall
Ron Hextall can beat a lot of things, but he can’t beat everything. Hextall, in some cases does get beat, might it be by Darren McCarty in 1997 or in this bracket. Stephenson’s mask is simply too cool to not move onto the finals, the creativity but still nice to look out. His mask has it all (unlike Hextall in those 97 Finals).
Bernie Parent Vs Wayne Stephenson
The two Broad Street Bullies goaltenders have met in the finals. This is where you, the reader come in, leave a comment below with a vote for either Bernie Parent or Wayne Stephenson. Did your favorite mask not make it to the final? Leave a detailed comment why I, Joe, am wrong (I’m wrong a lot of the time).