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CBC’s Glenn Healy slams mask makers and NHL goalie safety

CBC’s Glenn Healy slams mask makers and NHL goalie safety

Hockey Night in Canada's Glenn Healy strongly suggested injured Sabres No.1 Ryan Miller needs to get a new mask. (Scott Slingsby photo)

Concussions have dominated the National Hockey League news cycle all season, so it was only a matter of time before the talk turned to goaltenders taking 100-mile-on-hour slap shots off the noggin became a talking point in the mainstream media.

That’s exactly what happened on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of Thursday’s game between Ottawa and Montreal, when ex-NHL goaltender Glenn Healy teed off on a couple of mask makers during the After 40 Minutes segment between the second and third periods.

The debate opens with the topic of Ryan Miller’s current injury and the possibility it may be concussion related. The CBC talking heads, led by another ex-goalie in Kelly Hrudey, fully admitted such talk was speculative given reports out of Buffalo now indicate he’s out with a collarbone injury, and they certainly aren’t the only ones guilty of engaging in it. According to two sources, the Sabres have asked for more information about Miller’s mask and independent testing done on it (more on that below), furthering talk of concerns about a possible head injury.

Despite the uncertainty, however, Healy went on about Miller’s mask, which is made by long-time builder Gary Warwick of Warwick Masks:

“Here’s what I do know, and I’m going to get on my mask soapbox. I do know that Miller got hit in the head in Chicago. I do know that he didn’t look right. And I also do know that he has one of the worst masks in the NHL. It’s poorly constructed. He takes a risk every practice, every game. Goalie masks are not taken and tested by the NHL. Player helmets are, but not goalie masks. This hits me in the heart, because I had one of my friends Mike Richter, March 27 2002 … a shot fractured his skull. Mike had a crappy mask too; I told him when I played with him, ‘Get a better mask.’ This was it, career over…”

Healy is correct when he says the NHL doesn’t test goalie masks, an oversight that also involves a visor-like, freedom-of-choice resistance from the Players’ Association he used to work for, and an issue InGoal Magazine will soon expand on in a feature story. But that doesn’t mean Warwick masks, worn by Ed Belfour, Marty Turco and several other NHL goalies, don’t get tested at all.

Tony Calabro, whose company, OTNY Enterprise LTD, supplies the wire cages for Warwick, Eddy Masks, Sportmask and Bauer, does his own testing of both the masks and the cages using a puck cannon he built himself.

“I get it calibrated every year,” Calabro told InGoal Magazine. “I like to know what I’m making and I do tests to know where I stand. I feel comfortable when I go to bed, let’s put it that way. If I didn’t test, I’d always be wondering. I don’t have to wonder any more. Warwick brought me a helmet once and it was so light I thought to myself ‘wow this thing is light, it can’t be very strong.’ But darn it, I couldn’t break it.”

Warwick has posted video samples of testing by another company (Editor’s note: in the interest of full disclosure, InGoal ran a mask giveaway contest in partnership with Warwick Masks last year):

If Healy’s point is the NHL and NHLPA need to do more testing, it’s well taken. But he may have picked a bad example given how quickly past users of Warwick masks defended the product.

“I have worn the Warwick mask the better part of 15 years and never suffered any head injuries,” Ed Belfour wrote in an email to InGoal Magazine on Friday morning. “The mask was much lighter on the head and took strain off the neck. My son (Dayn) also has worn it for 10 years and has had good luck with it.”

According to Gary Warwick, Miller has already ordered a new mask for the playoffs.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller takes a high shot during a game earlier this season in Buffalo. (Scott Slingsby photo)

“Ryan Miller is not blaming the mask for his problem,” Warwick said. “Ryan took five big shots to the head in three games. I talked to Ryan Miller today and he is very supportive of me and the masks. He said that he had many shots to the head from some of the hardest shooters in the NHL. I have made him a new mask and it will be ready for playoffs.”

Warwick masks are also no longer certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council, the governing body in the United States. As the recall notice on the HECC website notes that was because of counterfeit stickers, not failed tests, though it does mean they no longer test Warwick masks.

“Decertification had nothing to do with safety or any injuries that I am aware of,” Warwick added late Friday afternoon. “I choose not to have my masks retested ever year and not to make small ,medium and large masks. Most of my masks are made in the large size and padded to fit the goalies to their specific size. This is the safest and best method and the way my goalies want the mask to be made. I was HECC tested and passed all of their tests with no problems. I had to have my back pad tested twice to get the HECC approval. I have all of my papers to prove what I am writing to you. Some people have been given the incorrect information on my masks. They are the best that can be made and I know they will stand up to any test that all of the other masks will undergo.”

Healy also brought up Jonas Hiller’s current injury, diagnosed insistently by the Ducks as vertigo, and suggested his mask, made by by Alec Voggel of Airxess, was a problem:

“Let’s take a look at Hiller. He gets his mask made by a guy in Switzerland in his basement. Say what you want, he played two games after this [getting hit in the head at the All Star game in February] and then didn’t play for a month. Some of the masks are good, some of them you’ve got great quality, some of them aren’t, some of them you get cut like a stuck pig  (as he spoke CBC ran a clip of Anaheim’s Curtis McElhinney, who also wears a Warwick mask, suffering a pressure cut from a shot high, hard shot that caught him flush through a screen).

They (the NHL) don’t look at these goalie masks, it’s time to buckle down and pay attention, because if Miller goes down with a concussion it’s major dollars…

Again, Healy’s last point is valid, and both the league and the player’s union needs to address it. (InGoal will soon in another article). But without following up with Voggel or his mask maker, it may not have been fair.

“Fact is Hiller is not injured. He has a health problem, vertigo,” Voggel wrote from Switzerland. “Working in a basement is ridiculous. We have our proper shop, and we worked with a company in Switzerland that did digital measurements of Hiller’s head scan data from a CT machine. His mask has three layers of carbon, four layers carbon kevlar used in an exact way that the crossing of the woven layers are perfectly matched. Reinforcements on the forehead and chin area distribute the force acting on the mask evenly. These parts have up to 14 layers at the end. A helmet in Formula1 has up to 19 layers, and is made the same way.”

At least Healy admitted the poor quality of the Cooper helmet-cage combination he wore in his playing days (ironically there was no mention of Rick Dipietro going back to a similarly unsafe set up with the New York Islanders recently), which ended in 2001:

“I’m not one to talk,” Healy admitted. “I wore the worst bucket in the league.”

~ Please feel add your comments below, and look for a complete examination of the mask testing issue in Monday’s FREE weekly InGoal Magazine newsletter.

~ with files from InGoal Managing Editor Kevin Woodley

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52 Comments

  1. Chris

    Great read! Healy is not an intelligent commentator. It is unfortunate he has such a large forum to shoot his mouth off… maybe his comments would be more astute if he had a better lid back in his day.

    Reply
  2. Scott Christensen

    Personally I wear Warwick, the same model as Ryan Miller and have never had a problem with shots to the head. Some of the shots were very hard from some ex-NHL and current AHL/NHL guys. He’s entitled to opinion, but he wasn’t passing it off as opinion. When he says things like “i know it’s poorly constructed” ok how do you know? “Richter was going to free agent and make $15 million” Richter was 36 when he retired and his play was slipping the last few years and wouldn’t have gotten/deserved a $15 mil contract. I trust a mask being made by “some guy in his garage” over something made China by a 12 year old.

    Reply
  3. Benjamin Smith

    I find it very interesting that Mr. Healy told Mike Richter to get a new mask considering the mask never broke and Mr. Richter reportedly doesn’t blame the mask at all.

    Mis-information is at work here and unfortunately, Glenn is full of it.

    Reply
    • Dan Jarvis

      The mask may not have broken but it did not take away the shock of the impact. Richters Skull did that. When Richter wore a Cubberly he never had a problem. He switched to a Pro’s Choice and busted his scull up ending his career

      Reply
      • Benjamin Smith

        This is my problem with misinformation.

        It’s a widely known FACT, even admitted by Richter, the foam was altered.

        The mask came in a perfect state, the Rangers altered it, Richter got hurt.

        It’s a very very widely known fact in our world as goaltenders and spreading misinformation that it was the mask’s fault is absolutely unfair to the facts surrounding the situation.

        Sorry, no.

        Reply
  4. RFleming

    Would it be possible to have a story (you may already have one, and I just haven’t seen it) comparing masks. Like, rank them factoring in quality, safety and cost?

    I recently got a new mask, and then I found out on another forum that it’s a dangerous mask to use in ice hockey even though it’s approved to be used on ice. It would be good to hear more about different masks to make sure I make a good purchase next time I get a mask.

    Reply
    • paul szabo

      Hi RFleming;
      The request you make about doing a sort of evaluation and ranking is a great idea, but I suspect not an easy one. Even if the masks could all be shown to meet a certain standard (i.e. not breaking on impact either from a determined number of hits or a hit of a determined velocity), there would still be all the intangible issues like what does the mask FEEL like under impact. There are many approved masks out there. But some of them I personally would not recommend.

      I have used three different brands (including the dreaded combo- for almost 20 years!) and they were all completely different in a game situation when getting hit. The one I like best (Sportmask Mage) may not be the safest; I don’t know. It just feels right to me and I have never been hurt wearing it. But that is not a scientific criteria. Moreover, every perosn has a diffeent tolerance for injury and under what circumstance they will sustain a concussion (yes, some of us just have thicker skulls).

      Just remember that the fit is critical- any extra space around your face or skull means the mask will slam into your head and concuss you. Also, the shell must be as stiff as possible. That is the ony way the impact can be distributed throgh your entire head and not just the point of impact. Last, foam wears out and gets hard. Masks can be renewed by changing the foams (with a kit or a professional job).

      I was once a motorcycle driving instructor and the motto was that the helmet was made to do its job (save your life)- one time. After that it had to be changed. It is quite incredible that we can wear these goalie masks as long as we do and they withstand such repeated impacts…

      Reply
  5. Kris

    Oh Glenn, if only your opinions were facts…..

    Fact is Warwick along with companies like Pro’s Choice, Protechsport ( who’s business is all done out of a garage by the way) and Sportmask make some of the safest and most durable masks on the market. (Bauer as well, but they are no longer hand made by Jerry Wright)

    Fact is Richter wore a Cubberly mask (also a very safe and well constructed mask) and he turned his head on the shot, the mask wasn’t able to do it’s job which is why Richter had a skull fracture.

    Masks are made to disperse the energy coming in from the shot, and when you get guys like NHL shooters, injuries are going to happen eventually.

    I think Healy should have bit is tongue a little, considering he bashed some of the safest masks that are out there.

    Reply
  6. Kris

    P.S.

    A lot of the injuries we see in the NHL from the cage of the mask breaking is because NHL goalies are using Titanium cages now. While they are lighter, they have a tendency to snap at the welds from direct blunt force, which causes a lot of the injuries today.

    Take a look at Pros Choice cages, or Sportmask, they have a thick, and solid center bar, which stops these injuries for the most part. And a lot of goalies use a double center bar which helps immensely with the strength of the cage.

    Reply
    • Patrick Moore

      I would say most goalies do not use Titanium cages. Those cages do not give and therefore disperse impact throughout the skull and brain. The normal steel cages give and dent (which they are supposed to do) in order to keep the impact from seriously hurting the user.

      Reply
      • Kris

        you’d b surprised at how many NHL, AHL semi pro goalies use a titanium cage now

        Reply
  7. Mike

    The article and interview with Gary Warwick specifically says the NHL tests goalie masks. Gary talks about sending them to Toronto over the summer to be tested. So, which is it, tested or not?
    I hope InGoal gets answers and writes about all the questions raised. What does Healy mean by ” poorly constructed”? Bad design, bad materials, bad manufacturing, what?
    Where did he get this info? Who does build, for example, the Bauer 961? Is the retail version the same as the pros are wearing? Is the shell the same and just the lining custom fitted to each pro goalie?
    Does Bauer and other big companies pay their pro goalies to wear their mask? How much? I believe Ryan Miller (or his team) probably pays Warwick, no big contracts/sponsorship.
    What is the status of the HECC/Warwick issue? Can’t the NHL and HECC figure out how to certify handmade custom masks by small companies? Seems backwards that cheap mass produced masks made overseas with who knows what kind of quality controls are certified.

    Reply
  8. paul szabo

    Hi Mike;
    You raise many insightful questions that Ingoal will hopefully be able to answer or at least discuss as this debate continues. In the meantime, here are a few points to consider:

    Obviously the big companies pay the goalies to wear their masks, just like the pads. Or rather their name brands. A good example is Luongo- it says Reebok on his lid but that is no Reebok mask like the 7k, 9k etc that you see in the stores. It is a Protechsport-Michel Lefebvre custom job (check this link http://www.goaliestore.com/board/equipment-forum/79119-luongos-mask.html, also: http://www.protechsport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42&Itemid=165).

    As far as the difference between store bought masks and the ones the pros wear, I think there must be many. Surprisingly, I suspect that NHL masks, for the purpose of weight, feel, comfort or ease of movement, are sometimes LESS padded than the ones we can buy. If you look closely at some of the NHL pros you can see the thickness in the foam at the forehead and around the face. Sometimes there is clearly less foam there. I saw Patrick Roy’s mask up close (albeit one from his Montreal days) and it was amazing how much foam he had shaved off. Did that make it less safe? I am no expert; hard to say. It is not just about how thick the foam is I realize; it’s also about the quality of the shell.

    As far as why the NHL can’t get a clear standard and certifying process, I would suggest looking at the complexity and even confusion over goalie equipment sizing to see that it is not as easy as it seems.

    Reply
  9. Matt in Montreal

    Glenn Healy’s an old, cranky curmudgeon.

    He somehow has the capacity to make hockey sound like a pain in the ass.

    Reply
  10. Matt in Montreal

    P.S.

    As if you have Belfour’s email address!

    Reply
  11. Tricky Ricky

    I would never wear a mask that shakes and shimmers like that when hit with the puck. (no matter what speed). especially when its knuckle puck time like those pucks in testing. like come on, why use a machine that cant shoot a puck like a shooter??
    where is all that force transferring to? your skull i suppose? which can cause head injuries.
    Where is the all the fiberglass in these masks?
    something solid with more fiberglass as opposed to all carbon and kevlar.
    Healy is actually right on this issue,
    Those masks have to much flex, and in my opinion, much like his, they are garbage.

    Reply
    • Patrick Moore

      What do you want your mask to do then? You want to wear a brick on your head?

      Anything can give and shake like that with the right amount of force/pressure. Haven’t you ever seen the videos of the solid steel/concrete bridges waving during some heavy winds or earthquake?

      Reply
    • Kris

      I am assuming you dont know much about composites. Fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon are all fabrics. Where the shell stiffness comes in is what resin is used to impregnate the fabrics. Fiberglass works fine, but its heavy, Kevlar works well too, and it is lighter, carbon is used as a stiffening fabric. Blends are where it is at.

      And trust me, you wouldn’t want a solid mask on your head. When the mask shakes like that, it is dispersing all those impact forces, and keeping it away from your head. If it was solid, it would be a direct transfer to your skull, and would always end badly.

      Reply
  12. Jose Agosto

    I have worn a Warwick mask for years, taken a few shots in the mellon & would highly recommend. I wouldn’t get in the nets without a Warwick, especially with shooters & those composite sticks. Gary sized the mask perfectly & has always responded to any emails sent to him.

    Reply
  13. Chip

    Personally, I could be wrong on this, but I think that the best masks out there used by pros are Promasque and Sportmask. The former, in Rolli’s case was criticized by Healy. I’m really big on helmet safety personally after years of wearing a helmet/cage combo and realizing how much I really put myself in danger (Ozzy just has more balls than me) and thank my mom for helping me realize the importance of safety. Anyway so when I decided to buy a new mask, I did my research and actually looked at some masks myself went with a Hackva however because it did look to be the safest and they are great to deal with. So anyway, as I am trying to prove without going off topic, there may be a problem with Warwick, I don’t know, but there’s certainly not one with Promasque in my opinion and Healy criticizes them too.

    Reply
    • Chip

      Sorry boys, I really didn’t prove anything. I though that was Rolli in the video it was McEhilleny (hope I spelled it right) that was a total brain fart. Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that Healy is critiquing all the custom mask makers some of whom make great masks.

      Reply
  14. Radar

    Well I could talk abou this topic all day long. I’ll agree the plastic SK2000 was not the safest option out there. Why is a mask that is form fitted to a face safer than a cage whose only contact point is the chin? Warwick’s version of the SK2000 has an independent suspension system in the helmet that does an incredible job of limiting the force of impact being transferred to the head. I don’t remember hearing of any concussion issues with those who wore them in the NHL. While I do not have any engineering background, there are pluses/minuses to both . I would favor the Warick combo over the mask. Could it be that the combos just too expensive to the masses thus why the mask makers claim that style is less safe than their mask design? Did anyone in the NHL who wore that style have there careers shortened because of the mask? People want to constantly complain about goalie equipment, maybe the composite sticks should be deemed illegal . Those sticks lead to more injuries to goalies and non goalies. Why should the average player be able to shoot the puck at 95+ MPH? Smaller equipment without going back to wooden sticks only exposes goalies to more injuries….but I digressed.

    Reply
  15. paul szabo

    HI Radar;
    You are right- this topic could be talked about forever and a concensus never found. I think that for your question about the combo vs. mask, the answer is in the question itself. Because a cage only touches your chin, all the impact (in the event of a shot to the face) is going to hit just one spot. That’s why the risk fo injury is higher. Also, the combo barely protected lower than the chin- without a dangler it was deadly.

    As far as the composite sticks go, I read an article that I wish I had saved, in which testing, both scientific and anecdotal, was done on one piece sticks. Apparently there was a clear advantage in the ease and speed of stickhandling, but not in the actual power of the shots. I know that seems hard to believe, but perhaps the increased speed of shots in the NHL has as much to do with the size, technique and strength of the shooters as the actual sticks. I play against at least one player who still uses a wood stick and his shot is as hard as anyone else’s. Recall that for about 15 years no one could break Al Iafrate’s hardest shot record from the 90’s (actually it was 105.2 mph, 1993 All-Star game). That record was not set with a composite stick.

    Reply
  16. Brian

    Well, the shell not cracking or shedding matteral on impact is fine. However, as we all know concussions are creaded by the brain bouncing off the inside of the skull. So the shell does not seem the be the most critical factor. The padding and deflection of impact is what prevents concussions. I wear Vaughn mask, and the few slapshot tourneys we play have no complaints with it. So would like to see the test result of the impact felt on the inside of the mask.

    Reply
  17. Jimbo

    I recently went to a Sportmask Mage RS a few months back and the forehead ridges seem to deflect a lot of the impact when I have taken shots to my mask. Plus the Cateye Cage on mine going majority of the way down the bottom of the mask I think helped take some of the impact off a few lower shots I had taken on the mask. I dont think I’ll ever use another style,simply because Sportmask seems to be one of the best for being affordable,durable,well padded,and comfortable. I think Healy must of put his tinfoil hat on for this one…I do find it funny how the masks Reebok makes for the public arent at all close to what the Pros wear…majority of them are Promasque or Pro’s Choice or another one of the private manufacturers. Sportmask even now offers a Pro-Line for a few of their top end masks like Thomas,Ward,and Quick use. Im curious,with the masks college goalies wear,do those get tested? I know they must wear approved cages,but itd be kind of interesting to see if those they wear get tested. Since just from quick glances,noticed what looked to be a few Warwick masks in use during the NCAA tourney,plus Im guessing Turco and Miller both used them back in their college days.

    Reply
    • David Hutchison

      Very interesting question about the NCAA and you are absolutely right, there are Warwick’s in use there. We’ll see what we can find out.

      Reply
      • Patrick Moore

        Masks in the NCAA are not required to be approved. It is “recommended.” Read it, it’s there.

        Example, the UMD goalie Reiter had a Pro’s Choice, no chance that’s approved.

        Reply
    • Chip

      Yeah man I know those RBK’s and Bauers are made in China couldn’t believe it and they’re twice the price of a Hackva or Sportmask… Own one of each the Mage by the way for the Sportmask great lid.

      Reply
    • Michael

      Not quite. Reebok’s pro masks are built by ProtechSport using shells from Lefebvre. Promasque is a small, one man shop that builds the masks for Roloson. Pro’s Choice handles Bauer’s pro needs, for the most part. All of these manufacturers will build masks for us regular goalies as well.

      Reply
  18. Ryan Brebner

    What an idiot. I wear a warwick and had 5 concussions before in stock “tested masks” (not all from shots, 2 from net crashes). My warwick has saved my butt a good number of times and Gary is a great guy to talk with and work with.

    As for Richter, he had the equipment guy pull out padding so his face would sit closer to the mask. Basically he modded it to be unsafe, which is why he does not blame the mask.

    While testing is something that would be nice the widowmaker was tested and passed as safe and you couldn’t pay me to wear the thing.

    Glenn needs to stop trying to be controversial, who does he think he is Don Cherry?

    Reply
  19. Jason Power

    Listening to Glen Healy and Kelly Hrudy talk about modern goaltenders is the equivilent of listening to Vanilla Ice talk about the state of the modern Music Industry.

    Glen Healy-The next coming of Pierre McGuire, the guy dying for attention but I can’t hear because I muted my tv.

    I can’t stop laughing about the thought of the next interview he is going to ask to do and gets turned down for. Way to go buddy, you just insulted EVERY goalie in the sport. Congrats

    Reply
  20. Stefan

    What a moron. I get the whole concept of free speech and all but don’t abuse it Mr. Healy.

    I wore a Warwick that lasted about 8 years and I’ve taken numerous shots to the Head without ever it cracking, or resulting in a concussion. Gary keep up the good work. I still have your mask.

    In regards to the comments towards Alec Voggel…Again Mr. Healy is wrong. I am from Switzerland myself and personally had a Mask painted by him. I visited his shop and saw some of his Proton masks. There is nothing like it. And no he doesn’t work in a basement. This guy pays attention to detail and like other people (Mr. Healy) he takes his job very seriously.

    When he did my mask I had a vision and he didn’t leave out a single detail I had asked for. The back piece of the Mask is made by Airxess and was fitted perfectly to my Bauer 961.

    I understand that the subject of concussions is serious, but don’t screw with someone’s business if you’re research isn’t on point. If there is something I hate is sloppy journalism.

    Reply
  21. Joe

    I played through the DIII college ranks and wore a few different helmets and had some concussions so I think I can make a few points.

    For my first 3 years of high school I wore a Promasque and loved it. It was one that had the air bag in the forehead for both a custom fit, comfort and protection. The salesman who sold it to me touted this air bag for it’s safety and my parents were immediately sold. The helmet was pretty light compared to an Itech Profile too.

    My senior year I switched to a lighter Eddy helmet that I liked a lot, but had it a bit big as that’s how I liked it to fit. This resulted in 3 concussions. I never put 2 and 2 together until I read in this article and comments how the mask is not absorbing the blow, but rather slamming into my head. I think this was the case on 2 of the 3 concussions. The 3rd was an elbow to the head as I was charged while playing the puck my freshman year of college. (I did somehow manage to play the last 5 minutes, make a few saves and get the win).

    After my big concussion that freshman year I switched to a Cooper helmet and mask combo like Hasek. I loved that bucket while my coaches and parents hated it. I loved how light the helmet was, my visibility and the fact that i could look all the way down without the neck of a mask stopping me. This helmet lasted just over a year. I had to replace the helmet once as one of those adjustment covers broke off, but I was forced into going back to a mask by my parents, coaches and trainer when I took a slap shot to the forehead in practice that cracked the helmet and gave me another concussion.

    From then on I have used a Koho mask that fits snugly, taken countless shots to the head and been bowled over by some big guys moving quickly.

    To me, having worn a few different brain buckets, it appears that the key isn’t what mask you wear, but rather if it fits properly. It should also be noted that the helmet cage combo shouldn’t be allowed if using a standard forward helmet. They’re called forward helmets for a reason. If this combo is used using a helmet designed for goalies like the Hasek or Thomas one, then I’m guessing that’s a different story as I haven’t tried either of them.

    Reply
  22. Robin

    I played a couple years over seas in the Tier I leagues and years of juniors in the US. I have used all sorts of masks from Itech, TPS, Vaughn, Promask, and Warwick. I can say hands down that Warwick is the best mask that I have ever used. I don’t think the quality and customers service can be matched by any one.
    There has been nights where I’ve had to wake Chad up to fix my mask after it chipped up or the cage had been too damaged to use the next game, which I appreciate since I’d rather it bend than to snap into my eye like some mask maker’s cages have done in the past… The small damages such as dings, scratches, and dents happens to every mask, but that it would get fixed so quickly and the good quality of the work was a big positive to me after having to deal with companies like Nike/Itech, RBK, and TPS who would just send you another mask. Well, that doesn’t work too well when you’re a goalie :).
    I don’t know where the hell Healy got all this from. I’m not sure he’s the right person to commentate on goalie ‘masks’ since he work a combo his whole career. But, Warwick makes a very good quality mask or the NHL goalies wouldn’t be using them and paying for the masks, not getting paid to wear them.
    You are going to get injuries, that’s a part of the game. We are talking about 1/8″-1/4″ of Carbon/Kevlar/fiberglass/etc here plus padding, how much do we really expect this to protect? It’s all about impact which the pad have to absorb or the head will. The pad and Kevlar can only do so much! These pucks are going 100+MPH at our heads. Are we going to blame a helmet maker since the guy that rode his motorcycle into the wall head first and died due to head injuries? No.
    Hopefully, some day we can add sciences and research together and construct the perfect mask that will prevent all injuries. But, I don’t think that’s going to be in the NEAR future.
    I can’t stop laughing of the thought of these people who were goalies in the 90s and 80s talking about gear today. The player has evolved, so the goalie have to follow. Having Kay Whitmore deciding the sizing of the goalies in the NHL. I guess the 11″ backfired, because the goalies are more agile and faster now. It only improved the game for the goalies, not the players.

    Reply
  23. Emil Thunberg

    Well , Miller is trying a Bauer mask now so I don`t think that he likes the warwick….

    Reply
  24. Mike

    Could you please tell us how you know Miller is trying a Bauer?

    Reply
    • David Hutchison

      FYI guys he just took delivery of a new Warwick and is getting another at the end of the week…

      Reply
      • Benjamin Smith

        The reality of the situation is, Glenn Healy is wrong.

        Not only is he wrong, he’s uneducated in the topic of the modern mask.

        His comments did however, spark criticism…Criticism that was purely unnecessary and blame.

        I think Mr. Healy should be held accountable for what he’s said because, in my opinion, it’s absolutely slander.

        You, yourself, called it borderline defamation; well, it actually is.

        Warwick’s are great masks, Michel makes a great mask, PC (Dom) makes a great mask…We live in an age where shells don’t break or crack anymore…

        We see 2 / 3? Masks break in the show a year?

        How many concussions? 5/10/15/20?

        We’re still using the same foams from the 80s and 90s, mind you.

        If you really had a well-done article of the modern mask, that would be the 1 thing that sticks out and the absolute 1 thing that needs to change; not the masks themselves but, what’s inside.

        Reply
        • Paul Szabo

          Actually, the foams inside the masks have changed, although maybe not enough. Back in the 80’s almost all masks and player helmets used Rubatex, a single layer and density foam that was rather soft and pliable. Now most masks are using multiple layers of different foams, including the closed cell styrofoam that is used in motorcycle helmets, with a softer gel-type pad on top for comfort (like my son’s Reebok 7k mask). Is this enough? Maybe it will never be, but as I mentioned in a previous post, it might be necessary to change the helmet literally after every severe hit to ensure its utmost safety and protection.

          Reply
          • Benjamin Smith

            Seeing the guys I see on a daily basis, this just isn’t the truth.

            Foams in mainstream masks have changed, I’ll give you that straight out.

            However, compare a 1995ish Jerry Wright custom 960 to a modern day…You’ll find the foam is virtually identicle…

            Guess what percentage of the NHL uses the Jerry Wright custom 960?

            The fact is, in mainstream masks, the foams DO change but, in the show, they get what they’ve always worn.

            I have a 960 SE on my shelf straight from Jerry from when they were first produced and if I go into the store today, same stuff.

            Most high end mask manufacturers have used the same stuff because we as a community don’t really have any other options.

            When a concussion occurs, the Equipment guys blame the mask…Well, the mask didn’t shatter, didn’t crack, definitely “did it’s job” but, what actually failed in that equation?

            There’s only 1 other viable failure, the foam.

            We don’t need to replace our masks every single shot because the shell isn’t the issue…The issue lies in what’s actually dispersing the force to your head.

  25. paul szabo

    Hi Benjamin;
    You make a valid and worthy point. I have to admit that a buddy of mine just bought a 960 and it had the same white rubatex foam.

    I also agree that the pros are sometimes the last to change habits. Hockey is a bizarre culture sometimes, with many examples of guys doing the same old, unsafe practices i.e. not doing up the chin strap on the helmet so it comes off the head in a bodycheck, or guys like Gomez and Kovalev sticking to the CCM HT1 helmet.

    I am trying to remember where I read that Carey Price is proabably using a mask that is the same size as it was when he was a bantam or midget, one he got used to and never sized up as his head grew. When you look at pictures up close you can see how far the back of his head pushes the backplate out, and how the chin hardly protects his throat because it is so short. To me that is really not safe.

    If you have more experience than me maybe you could say why you think that the manufacturers have no choice but to use the old foams. I really do think my son’s Reebok 7k is safer with the closed cell motorcycle helmet type foam. All the newer player helmets use it too. Why not just put these foams into the pro masks?

    What do you know about gel padding? I have hears both that it is great stuff and also that it is totally dangerous but I have never seen or tried it.

    Thanks for your comments and interest.

    Reply
  26. Dave

    It’s amazing how far this discussion has come since the days of Esposito cutting apart a wire cage and taping it to the front of his mask, and ripping out some padding from his old pants and taping it to the top of his mask

    http://www.legendsofhockey.com/Legendsofhockey/images/tony-mask2.JPG

    The league can do whatever they want to try to certify equipment, then it goes to the player, who modifies it, and all bets are off. Richter’s cage sat about 1/4″ off his nose, that always freaked me out. I switched to an Eddy Mask after a shot cracked my old Cooper HM30 combo right in the forehead. I have never had a problem with the Eddy Mask, even have a nice dent in the cage from a Chellios slap shot, that rung my ears but nothing else. I think the most interesting point here is about the foam and making sure you mask fits properly. I actually just replaced my foam for the 5th time. Especially now with the internet and ebay, people buying masks are more apt to buy before they try on, and having something that fits properly is the most important safety feature.

    Reply
  27. paul szabo

    Since this debate hasn’t yet run out of steam, here is my 2 more cents, based on my research this morning:

    Rubatex, the pliable wite stuff used in the older helmets, masks and (as pointed out above) in many pro masks, is actually called VN (vinyl nitrile).
    The black hard foam in masks like the Reebok 7k and 9k, and almost all newer, high end helmets, is EPP (expanded polypropylene). It is usually usedin conjunction with a thinner layer of VN, for the sake of comfort. It is designed to withstand multiple impacts. Bauer even has something called FXPP, a supposedly better variant of this in its 9500 helmet.

    The white closed cell foam in old bike helmets and still current motorcylce helmets is EPS (expanded polystyrene, I believe) and this is a SINGLE impact foam that must be thrown away after one hit.

    I would suggest reading this article about two well known goalie masks, one of them infamously called the widow-maker. The writer correctly points out that the two masks are almost identical, except that the cheaper one uses VN only, and the more expensive one uses EPP and VN. I think his conclusions are worth a look.

    Reply
      • Benjamin Smith

        One of the major issues I think everyone is overlooking is the fact most of these guys are wearing masks that are 10+ years old.

        It’s well known that some of these guys have been using the same masks since Juniors yet, they’ve never changed the foam.

        Why do you ask?

        They don’t want to.

        The major thing we’re all overlooking is that they’re big boys and they can make their own decisions.

        If a goalie is going to wear that mask, with that hard foam, the same mask he’s worn since Juniors or the AHL, CHL etc, that’s HIS decision (There are about 20+ of these situations btw to my understanding) and we really have no place to tell them otherwise right now.

        Saying the mask is at fault when the foam is failing, is an absolute falsehood and I still think Glenn is off his rocker.

        The masks absolutely are not the problem anymore because they’re not breaking…When was the last time ANYONE heard a mask break in the show this season?

        I’ve heard of 3/4 and that’s only because I inquire about those situations BUT, 3 of those were in practice.

        Match that against the amount of concussions…Interesting isn’t it?

        We’re having 4/5/6x the concussions as we used to and there’s really no correlation to masks breaking anymore…More insteresting, no?

        The masks have changed ENOUGH to where they just don’t break/crack or shatter like they used to, that’s a flat out fact.

        If a guy is going to wear a mask with rock-hard foam, that’s his business…Is it safe? Hell no BUT, he makes enough $$$$ to make an informed decision, himself AND the NHL chooses to “overlook” that factor because the shell passed in flying colors.

        I personally think there has to be research done…What’s the best foam? Is a Gel better? Is a combination of the two, better?

        Nobody knows those answers…And you have to answer those questions before you can take on this issue.

        Reply
  28. larry sadler

    Well this whole discussion about goaltender masks reminds me of the original debate we had around the first hockey helmets. Back then the test for a safe helmet involved dropping a weight on it to see if it cracked. This failed to take into consideration that the integrity of the shell was not the only concern. When an egg is quickly shaken the shell remains intact but the contents are scrambled. Having a helmet which doesn’t crack was only a part of the safety issue. The dispersal of the force of the puck was necessary as well to insure the player remained safe. When they started using electronic force transducers in the testing process they found out how much impact the helmet took and therefore knew whether the player risked receiving a concussion.
    With goaltender facemasks just making sure the shell remains intact is only one part of the overall equation. Is the force properly dispersed? Watching videos of a goaltender’s mask while it receives high speed shots only shows me we aren’t using the full range of testing to insure will reduce the risk of concussion. Using force transducers on the masks will tell us that. But who has the technology to do that? Certainly the small facemask maker doesn’t.
    An even more important thing to remember is the back of the goaltending mask/helmet combo. With a regular helmet the integrity of the shell i.e. it’s strength is assisted by the fact it is one solid round piece of plastic. The dispersal of force is often helped by the solid curved unit which makes up the helmet. With the goaltender unit we see a loose 2 piece unit which can not properly disperse the impact throughout the entire goaltender’s helmet. I am waiting for someone to be hit in the back of the head, or worse to fall back and make contact with the ice squarely on the back of the head. I have a good friend who was run in the crease while playing Adult Hockey. He fell straight back was knocked out cold and can no longer play hockey. I agree the testing of goaltending facemask units need to be more fully examined.

    Reply
    • paul szabo

      Hi Larry;
      If what you are saying is true, and it certainly makes sense to me, then maybe the mask which best protects the head is… the cage combo (because it uses a one piece helmet)! I don’t mean the SK2000 combo, moreso the Hasek combo he had at the end of his career.

      I wonder why the sensors or force receptors you mention can’t be used in testing. Too expensive? Aren’t these the kind used in crash tests for cars? Imagine the advertising coup when some mask company can say that their mask was tested using this technology.

      One further point about concussions- even with clear standards there will be variations due to people’s different tolerances to injury. It reminds me of the high altitude climbing I used to do- everyone reacts differently to this stress and it is almost impossible to know who will react less or more. I think it is the same thing for impacts to the head.

      Reply
      • Benjamin Smith

        I really don’t think the cage-combo is the best option.

        I think current masks are currently the best option…in terms of the protection they offer.

        I grew up in the 90s in net, everyone was commenting on Hasek and Healy, how great the combo was…They really weren’t…Not only were they NEVER worn properly, you’d have to be insane to wear one today.

        Our primary issue REALLY at this point is the NHL’s rules/regulations in the matter of foams.

        If a guy is going to wear the same mask/foam for 10 years and recieve a concussion; well, there’s an issue with that.

        The foam is rock hard, the Rubatex’s ability to disperse ANY impact has been trivialized, there’s a REAL issue.

        As I’ve said before, that’s the majority of the NHL.

        The players don’t know any better, most of the Equipment Managers in the show, exist to make their netminders happy and “fix” their gear. The vast majority are in no way/shape/form what we’d call experts or even educated on this topic, so, the players get away with it.

        If the NHL really wants to make a difference in concussions, we need a new foam/gel/something that’s going to better disperse the impact AND there has to be some policing done on the guys who haven’t changed their foams in a decade.

        I’m all for new testing, it absolutely needs to get done, done properly and people need to open their eyes to how dangerous it is wearing rock hard foam in your mask.

        It’s really the NHL’s ball to pick up or drop; I personally speak to about 10ish professionals a day VIA email and I know for a fact the majority of them, haven’t changed their foams since juniors.

        If the NHL isn’t going to step in as an authority with their best interests in mind, who else should be responsible? The EM that no one has trained? The EM that removes foam from the masks making them more dangerous?

        Reply
  29. larry sadler

    Hello Paul:
    When you mentioned my point on transducers you would do well to ask the mask makers themselves why they just shoot pucks at their product instead of finding out what force is transmitted through the mask.
    The cage/helmet combo does offer more safety as well it allows the goaltender to breathe better and has slightly better sight lines.
    As for Hasek’s cage/helmet combo – that was an interesting one. He never wore it properly. The cage was designed to not just rest on the chin BUT for the full force of the cage to be borne by the 2 inverted “J” brackets which were anchored on the side of the helmet. Hasek’s brackets were never properly attached to the helmet. So his cage rested more on his chin than on the helmet. Any hard shot that hit his cage could have pushed this jaw up into the joint. We used to call that concussion a “Glass Jaw”.
    As for your comment on concussions physiological differences we just have to look at the number of players who have succumbed to concussions because their brain was slightly smaller than the skull cavity it occupied. The sudden movement of the skull would cause the brain to slam harder against the inside of the skull bruising the brain even more. This may well have been the reason Eaves and the Lindros brothers had such concussion problems.
    Larry Sadler – smartgoalie.com

    Reply
  30. sylvain

    I used to wear a Itech 1201 (the one is for cat eye cage) i must say that it may have did it`s job, saving me injuries and never cracked, but i remember why i changed it: it gave me terrible ringers, which i found something normal, until i had a real bad one from a puck deflected on the side of the mask. My ears rang for about an hour! After a quick research, seeing the reputation of the mask , i decided to swap it for a Bauer NME9 and never regretted the investment. Yes my ears still ring whenever i get a hard shot but for about 5-10 seconds, that sound is too loud and close to the ears like a gun shot.The newer mask fits a lot better on my head and chin, making dispersion of the shock more even. Plus i do not loose my mask anymore when i get run into by a mammouth forward…Yes the Itech was CSA approved, but i`d wear a non approved Fusion mask (or any good mask maker) with proper fit anytime.

    Reply
  31. Steven

    Okay let’s look at this from a Goalie parents helmet buyers perspective.
    1 There is a standard set for testing reflected in this study ASTM F1587 that is allegedly used by the HECC
    2 You have to pay to get the standard …..Why??? Okay so some other company paid to have it done but even still shouldn’t’ the consumer have access to this information…..
    3 None of the hockey mask makers publish the speciation for shock absorption that their individual helmet will safely provide the wearer…Really why is this. I’m about to take a proverbial bullet to the head I want to know that my Dragon skin armor will withstand a 9 mm bullet at say 6 feet….DUH….Really lets get on board with a study to fix this issue!!!!
    4 Can anyone tell me what the minimum blunt force trauma specification is required to induce a mild concussion? Oh wait there must be an automotive study done with regard to impact requirements here but none for hockey players and more specifically GOALIES who face the greatest danger of any player on the ice at any given moment to receive a purposely fired shot to the knoggin… where is Brendan Shanahan on this one????
    5 What is the actual impact induced in to the goalies head on say an average shot of 60 to 80 miles an hour…A mind is a terrible thing to waste unless you have decided to play goalie!
    6 Why is there no fine or penalty for hitting the goalie in the frickin head with a shot where as for a skater you at least get 2 minutes a head shot (okay not necessarily with a puck but you get the idea)
    There are no guarantees that a published specification for any individual goalie helmet will stop concussions but can I get a better idea of what I’m getting when I pay for a goalie helmet. I sure would like to be an informed consumer……but for right now hyperbole and rhetoric is all I can purchase from Mask makers.

    Reply
  32. roger

    its not secret that while shots are harder, goalies spend 50 percent more time on their knee than their standup predacessors…… so they are getting hit more. If they stood up a bit more there wouldn’t be an issue. I am a goalie, and yes I butterfly….. but I don’t camp out… I wear a sportmask with a cat eye cage and it is very light, so sometimes I wonder..

    Reply

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