A goalie's mask is a powerful weapon that can spread special messages. Through illustrations, it can tell legendary tales, honor historic people and promote important causes.
Anaheim's Jonas Hiller has created just such a masterpiece with his special-edition "Movember" mask, which he's expected to debut after Halloween to help kick off the second year of Movember, a month-long campaign to promote awareness of cancers that affect men through the growing of mustaches, which has been widely supported by NHL players.
Hiller's mask, although it has yet to make its debut, has already gone viral after debuting exclusively on the Goalie Guild website last week.
The one-of-a-kind mask, which was custom painted by Alec Voggel of goalie-mask design company Airxess, remains unique on a landscape known for out-of-the-box designs. It is the first one to not only promote the "Movember" movement, but it is the first one to feature all of a goalie's teammates as well. Each player is depicted by a mug shot and each has a different style mustache airbrushed onto the mug shot.
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Movember has quickly become one of the more important and fan-friendly charitable fights within the hockey community. By growing mustaches, thousands of men across the globe raise awareness for prostate cancer, and other cancers that afflict men of all ages.
Approximately 150 NHL players grew mustaches this past season. That number is expected to grow this year as more players embrace the movement and have fun growing facial hair.
Hiller's mask has already drawn attention to the movement in major media circles. It has already made appearances on Yahoo's hockey blog, Puck Daddy, and on Jim Rome's radio show, "Rome is Burning" on ESPN.
Hiller admits he left the design to Voggel after a long discussion about how he could contribute to the movement. A mustache may not be a possibility because facial hair bothers him under the mask, he says.
"The design had to be funny, as the Movember website shows, but with enough respect for the story behind it," Voggel told NHL.com. "And as always, it should be as unique and minimalistic as possible."
For decades, goalie masks have been painted to reflect the owner's personality, providing the wearer a canvas to reflect a part of their personal history -- be it a favorite band, hobby, animal or idol. But Hiller has done something truly special by taking an unselfish and ego-less approach to his mask.
When the mask was delivered to Hiller, teammates gathered around him in the locker room, pointing and laughing at their own mustaches and chirping teammates. Every Ducks player that had a Twitter feed or Facebook page posted photos with their phones, thus dispersing different images out unto the world. It helped spread the Movember message to thousands of people.
The Ducks will continue with the Movember message all month. Led by Movember team captain George Parros, a majority of the club will grow mustaches in November. Fans will have the opportunity to donate to their "favorite ‘stache" through the Ducks "MoSpace" page at http://us.movember.com/mospace/983114/.
At the end of the month, Hiller will auction off his Movember mask and the funds will benefit programs run directly by Movember and the organization's health partners: the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
"It is a funny thing," forward Saku Koivu said, discussing the mask. "Hopefully it is going to get a lot of attention for a good cause. Nobody knew, nobody expected that, so it was a pretty good laugh when we saw it. There are some funny faces."
"Check out this insane goalie mask that Hillsy had made up for the month of Movember," said George Parros in a tweet to his nearly 25,000 followers. "It's siiiiick!"
"Hiller's Movember mask -- I must say, I look nice with the facial hair," tweeted Ducks forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
Like a medieval shield used in battle, Hiller's Movember mask is a righteous protector. It not only saves him from dangerous pucks, but it stands for a cause greater than any one man.
In the end, this mask doesn't just promote Movember; it reflects the giving nature of a pro hockey player.
Hiller loves designing his goalie masks and sending messages with them -- be it the black-matted mask with the gold cage, or the special-edition Swiss-themed Olympic mask, or the marbleized multi-colored one from a year ago. This mask, though, stands alone as he promotes an important charitable cause through a totally unique design. It includes his best friends and teammates, providing just another reminder of how the players shape the sport and, in the process, reach out to support and serve the community.