Look At This Awful Goalie Mask

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Colby Cosh: Wretched goalie mask art

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As I mentioned in my first post, this article by Colby Cosh inspired me to start this blog. It was the new Edmonton Oilers mask of Nikolai Khabibulin that set him off, and I agree with him. I’m going to use his words, and images from the Pro’s Choice website.

“…this mask contains several features that symbolize the fallen, wretched state of goalie mask art in the 21st century”.

OK, I know it’s harsh to say “wretched” regarding a mask like this. Individually the different elements of this mask are pretty well executed. But together they’re too busy and make this mask look like a mess.

“It depicts a white wall that refers to Khabibulin’s nickname, the “Bulin Wall.” Lest anyone fail to make the connection, the words “Bulin Wall” are helpfully spelled out on the neck guard, in the manner of a bad editorial cartoon”.

I lived in Phoenix for five years during the time Khabibulin played for the Coyotes. I think “Bulin Wall” is a clever nickname. But the “Bulin Wall” on the neck guard is absolutely the worst part of this mask. The typography is terrible, and it’s just crammed in there like ten pounds of crap in a five pound bag. Also, I know orange is one of the Oilers colors, but it makes it look even worse.

Did I mention that the eagle has cartoon oil drops flying out from the vicinity of its ominous screaming head? And that it’s clutching the classic Oilers mask of Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr in its talons?”

I’m guessing this is supposed to be the double-headed eagle of Russia, but to me it looks like a an angry chicken. In fact with the spewing (orange?) oil coming out of the oil rig, it looks like a chicken being shot in the head. The best parts of the design are the classic Grant Fuhr masks. Why? Because they have simple designs and they’re rendered simply.

“Today’s masks are invariably designed to be contemplated up close. Moreover, in the 1970s, a single genius like (Greg) Harrison could handle most of the global demand for hockey-mask design. Today, the market has been flooded with airbrush-wielding amateurs whose work belongs on the side of a van.”

Colby nailed that one.

“And the design work is, fatally, 100% customer-driven. No goalie seems to regard his mask as being wholly complete unless it, like Khabibulin’s, is replete with multiple personal signifiers. Hell, Khabi’s mask is, if anything, fairly restrained. He apparently didn’t feel the need, as far as one can tell, to make room for some clumsy tribute to fallen veterans or to a cute kid with leukemia”.

Oh, I’ll get to the tribute masks. And, oh god, I just noticed the text on the neck guard has that sparkly, glowy thing on them. Ugh.

“The result is that nobody looks around upon entering the big league and says to himself, “Hey, there are already 20 guys in the NHL who already have a super-scary fanged skull on their mask. Maybe I want something ELSE on mine.” The impulse is literally not in them”.

Read that paragraph again, because it is hilarious!

I’m really surprised there isn’t a reference to his Stanley Cup win with the Lightning, unless it’s crammed in there somewhere and I can’t see it.

On the plus side I really like the authentic, non-chicken looking, Russian eagle with the national colors on the back. Good job hiding the most dignified part of the mask.

Oh, and I hate the oil rig too. Take it off, make the Oilers logo a little bigger and move it up. Much better.

And yeah, I know, he’s been sporting similar masks for a long time now. And they’re all bad. But I didn’t want to turn this into a comprehensive catalog of two-headed chicken masks.

Judgement: Bad


Written by kdjohns

September 24, 2009 at 11:06 am