Ever since Montreal’s Jacques Plante had his nose broken by the New York Rangers’ Andy Bathgate during a game in the 1959-60 season, the goalie mask has become ‘de rigueur’ for netminders in all leagues. Not only that, but the war paint that goaltenders have applied to their face protectors has become a real art form. They have been painted to tell stories, show the goalie’s personality and depict cartoon characters, other famous athletes, comic book heroes and cool interpretations of a team’s logo. Let’s just say masks have come a long way since Gerry Cheevers’ famous “Stitches” mask.
Argh! There be pirates on that mask! Ward, a landlubber from Saskatoon, chose to depict a scary looking Blackbeard on his mask. A Conn Smythe winner in 2006 and Carolina’s number one netminder since 2005, also adorns his mask with his nickname, Wardo and the word Hurricanes in a slick font above the metal grate. His number ’30’ is featured on top of the mask, in a swirling and artsy rendering of the Carolina Hurricane logo. On the back plate, Ward has chosen to personalize his with a cross and the initials of his late grandfather. Like a fighter pilot, he has a Stanley Cup there too, as well as a green clover for good luck. To further show his personality, he has ‘Have Fun’ written on it and a picture of a stork with a bundle to show fatherhood. Shiver me Timbers!