Monday, June 3, 2013


Most of the cards that I have featured in my Cardboard Photography posts have great action, vintage equipment, unique angles or just an overall oddball feel.  For this particular's something else.

As you may know, I'm a big fan of goalie masks.  I like looking at and knowing about as many different goalie masks that have been worn in the NHL as possible.  Be it the classics like Martin Brodeur, Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante all the way up to today's art like Al Montoya and Corey Crawford.

One goalie who definitely has an iconic mask is that of John Vanbiesbrouck from his days with the Florida Panthers.  Proof's in the pudding.

I don't think there's any debate that when you see this mask - you know who it is.

What I find interesting is that in his days beforehand with the Rangers, Vanbiesbrouck switched up his mask a number of times.  I guess he was never quite happy with the look.  His days after Florida, especially with the Flyers, saw more variations (I remember him adding a glitter-type look to some of his lids).

But with was status quo.

Or was it?

Check this card out.

1993/94 Topps Stadium Club
#85 John Vanbiesbrouck

Lovely posed shot I know, but take a look at the goalie mask John's leaning on.  Clearly something different than his go to mask.  Remember, the Panthers just came into existence in the league and I don't even think Beezer had even played a game in Florida colors before this photo was taken.

Could this be a first version mask?  Is it a mask that belongs to another Florida goalie (Mark Fitzpatrick was the other goalie picked in the 1993 Expansion Draft)?  Or is it a mask that was brought in specifically for the shoot?

In doing some research, I found dead end after dead end.  It doesn't seem as though much is documented about the mask.  Believe it or not, I have seen it a couple times before.

Here's an insert from Skybox Impact's 1996 release.  Clearly a different mask (and I think it's the same lid as in the TSC pic).  So did he wear it in a game?  Maybe practice only?  Do card companies use a lot of practice photos on their cards?  The questions just pile up.

I also saw this mask (don't ask me how I remember this must be from my obsession with masks at the time) in an NHL-produced video called  NHL's Masked Men - The Last Line Of Defense.  Here's the snippet with Vanbiesbrouck (go to about the 3:15 mark).

No mistaking John Vanbiesbrouck there with comedian Jay Mohr....and it's Mohr who is wearing that rare mask.

So what's the story behind this goalie mask?  I for one would love to know.  It just goes to show can often reveal the answers, but there are occasions where it will instead pose more questions.


  1. Only thing I've noticed is the mask on the Topps card has blue eyes where as the Skybox has red eyes.

    1. Yes, but in both cards the Panther is much more realistic looking than that of his iconic Panther mask design (seen at the top).

      Where did that mask come from and why did it never get used much?

    2. My guess would be that it was a practice mask. Can't say for sure.

      ALSO I do own a POG of the Beezer dawning the same detailed Panthers mask.

      1995-96 Canada Games NHL POGS

      It was in this set, can't find a stock photo.

    3. Hello,

      Thanks very much for the additional find and your thoughts. Very much appreciated.


  2. vanbiesbrouck also wore an all red mask in florida with some black squares and bee's on it . You could find it on the select certified 95-96 card of him. Or on the pinnacle all star fantasy card from the same year

    1. NICELY DONE!!! I remember that mask.

      His 96/97 Leaf card has a great pic of it too (taken from inside the net).

      Beezer has had some gems in his days. Even his days with the Islanders and Devils brought some cool looking lids.

      Thanks for the comment.

    2. I'm pretty sure that was the mask made for the lockout season in 94-95. He also wore it for a brief period after first being traded to the Devils in 01.