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Yann Danis Mask by Stéphane Bergeron of La Griffe Airbrush: Right (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

Goaltender masks are the most individual and romanticized of all hockey equipment, evoking ancient armor-clad warriors – the Knights of the hockey world. Dependent upon the individual goaltenders and teams, goalie masks display a wide variety of themes, from the fierce, historical, and even humorous, with designs ranging from classic, clean and simple, to highly detailed Baroque ornamentation. Goaltender masks have evolved into elegant and stunningly beautiful artworks, and every mask contains personal elements, sometimes hidden on the back plate, or even in plain sight within the overall design of the mask.

My two design favorites are relatively recent masks; and it might not come as a surprise that the first is LA Kings Jonathan Quick’s masks which are directly based on medieval knight helmets with armor sections bolted and affixed, including a seemingly “moveable” visor. The second is the intricate “filigree” design mask of Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas. The white-on-white design contains the Bruins Bear hidden within the overall design topped with a roundel above the face mask depicting an eagle with the phrase “In God We Trust” underneath.

Excitement builds at the beginning of each season as goaltenders across the leagues reveal their new masks and recently at the OKC Barons training camp I was able to take a close look at the new masks belonging to Yann Danis, Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz. Last season’s OKC Barons masks were featured in an article by Ed Godfrey “OKC Barons: For goalies, a mask is for more than saving face,” February 27, 2012 in The Oklahoman. (I also photographed Tulsa Oilers’ Ian Keserich’s mask and will feature his new mask in the near future.)

Yann Danis: 2012-13

Yann Danis, last season’s AHL Goaltender of the Year, appreciates team tradition and old school style and this season’s mask is the perfect example of the Edmonton Oilers’ 1980’s winning history, paying tribute to the Oilers’ goaltending great, Grant Fuhr. “Obviously Fuhr was a big part of their success. You always hear about Gretzky and Messier but as a goalie I know Fuhr was a huge part of it too because there wasn’t always a lot of defense being played, so he had to stand on his head a few times back in those days.” [note 1]

Grant Fuhr was drafted 8th overall by the Edmonton Oilers and played ten seasons with the team from the 1981-82 season through the 1990-91 season. During that time the Oilers’ goaltending duo of Grant Fuhr, first with Andy Moog (who departed in 1987), and then Bill Ranford, were among the most daunting in Edmonton Oilers’ history, winning five Stanley Cups for the seasons 1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1987-88, and 1989-90. Due to an injury, Fuhr did not play in the 1990 playoffs for the fifth Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup win for the 1989-90 season when he was replaced by Bill Ranford.

Furh was awarded the Vezina Trophy for his 1987-88 season with the Oilers, and later with the Buffalo Sabres Fuhr won the William M. Jennings’s Trophy in 1993-94 with Dominik Hašek. In 2001, the Oilers retired Fuhr’s #31, and soon after in 2003, Grant Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. [HHOF Fuhr Stats.]

Danis’ mask depicts not only the legendary Oilers goaltender Fuhr, but also his 1980’s iconic mask which was a molded composite and covered the entire face with only large holes for the eyes and air holes around the nose and mouth as well as strategically placed around the outer mask. Aside from the design, Danis’ mask makes use of a chrome cage tying into the chrome painted derrick on the chin which is absolutely brilliant.

Mask Left side: At the top is the Oilers Oil Drop logo in their retro colors of Royal blue and orange overlaid by an image of Grant Fuhr in his famous Oilers mask and retro colors with blue jersey. Note the old CCM blocker and stick.

Mask Right side: At the top is a detail of Fuhr wearing his iconic mask with no front grill. Below is another image of Fuhr in white jersey, sprawling to make a save, and beneath this image is another Oilers Oil Drop logo.

Mask Front: The entire mask is outstanding but the most spectacular element of the mask is the chrome painted derrick on the chin backed by an orange fiery undulating glow.

Mask Backplate: On the left are Danis’ children’s names and on the right are the flags for his home province of Quebec and the Canadian flag.

Gallery of Photos (Click to enlarge.)

OKC Barons Goaltender Mask Series: