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This artist's goalie masks bring beauty to the beastly game of hockey


This artist's goalie masks bring beauty to the beastly game of hockey

WATCH I  Franny Drummond adds an artistic touch to hockey that goalies wear proudly for everyone to see.

Franny Drummond watches hockey games featuring his hometown Philadelphia Flyers from his art studio, Paintzoo Studios, in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. But unlike most fans, on nights when Steve Mason is in goal, his attention is redirected from the game to the headpiece sported by the hometown goaltender.

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In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo, Franny Drummond airbrushes a mask for Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey goalie Steve Mason at PaintZoo studio in Langhorne, Pa. Drummond is one of the few NHL helmet artists who makes helmet designs come to life. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Goalie masks in hockey go largely unnoticed, often overshadowed by massive bodychecks and highlight-reel goals. But considering where they came from, both in technological product and artistic sensibility, it might come as a shock to some that they aren't more of a headline during a game.

According to <b>USA Hockey Magazine</b>, NHL goalies did not wear masks prior to 1959. That all changed when a Montreal Canadiens goaltender by the name of Jacques Plante was fiercely struck in the face with a hockey puck.

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St. Louis Blues? goalie Jacques Plante started a era for ice hockey goal tenders by donning a mask a decade ago. Left, Plante uses his newest face mask prior to game Wednesday at night in Pittsburgh. At center is Plante with out the mask and, right, Plante wears mask in January 1960, when has during with the e) (AP Photo)

He was ushered off the ice for repairs, but refused to set foot back on the ice unless he was accompanied by a fiberglass mask he had worn in practice.

Although it would have been hard for him to believe, due to constant heckling and being labeled a coward, Plante introduced a trend that would be followed.

A few years after Plante's goalie mask debuted, NHL goalies began wearing masks with more regularity. Despite different variations, the common mask was usually white and featured five holes, two for the eyes, two for the nose, and one for the mouth.

One night in the 1970s, Boston Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers was hit by a puck in the face. His fiberglass mask absorbed most of the initial impact, but he was still taken off the ice for further evaluation. It was upon his return to the ice that the course of goalie masks changed forever. Cheevers emerged from the locker room sporting a black line on his mask, featuring ten stitches in the location where the puck had hit him, according to USA Hockey Magazine. He continued to mark his mask with each additional blow to his face, wearing them like badges of honor.

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Gerry Cheevers, 37, goalie for the Boston Bruins, looks over his team during a practice session, Saturday, May 20, 1978, Boston, Mass. The Bruins trailed the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in the Stanley Cup finals until Thursday, night, when the Bruins shut out the Canadiens 4-0 on the Bruins home ice. The next game of the series will be played Sunday, night in Boston. (AP Photo)

He's like, 'well why don't we come up with making my friends zombies?' I'm like 'well it's never been done before.'
Franny Drummond-Owner, PaintZoo Studios

Today's goalie masks feature a bevy of designs that signify not only the evolved technologies, but artistry as well. Cheevers' "stitches" idea was just a starting point for Franny and current Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

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Philadelphia Flyers' Steve Mason looks on with a new paint scheme on his goalie mask, his teammates as zombies, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Philadelphia. The Bruins win 6-1. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The mask features  Mason's current teammates being portrayed as zombies.

It's grown in recognition across the sporting world because of its distinct and extraordinary artwork, which was all hand-painted by Franny, and includes details such as scars and even individual facial hairs.

Franny, amongst others, have helped to revolutionize the culture of hockey through their decorative ways. Goaltenders all across the NHL partake in the ritual of custom paint jobs on their headgear, and many of them sport more than one.

A lot of the guys are doing specialty masks...A lot of these are extra ideas for us artists that we can show our talent.
Franny Drummond- Owner, PaintZoo Studios

The NHL hosts events that offer unique opportunities for some goalies to sport "specialty masks" in a commemorative fashion. The NHL Stadium Series, the NHL Winter Classic, and Hockey Fights Cancer night, amongst others, are a few of the events that present a chance for some special, and sometimes bizarre designs.

Many of these designs include tributes to former players or events that took place either in the city or the franchise that the goalie represents. For example, current Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask sported a mask with Tom Brady throwing a football during the 2016 Winter Classic in Massachusetts'  Foxborough Stadium. 

With his mask adorned with an image of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask waits for play to resume during the first period of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots, in Foxborough, Mass., Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Among the many portraits decorating Paintzoo Studios, one sits atop a flight of stairs featuring Boston's Rask. As he glares out at the ongoing play, there is the familiar stitched face of Cheevers on the side of his mask, a tribute to the game's first visionary to decorate a piece of protective equipment. For Franny, it serves as a reminder from where the craft once came, and perhaps inspiration for where it may go in the future.

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