Tuesday, April 19, 2011

RATE MY MASK - Cesare Maniago

The elaborate masks of today can sometimes be too much for a person to really 'get'. It can take time to figure out 'What's on his mask?'...often looking like a blob of colors from the crowd.

Masks are also pretty standard in the construction nowadays. The cage/mask combo is pretty much the norm (unless your name is.......wait for it......Chris Osgood) leaving little to the constructive imagination.

That's why masks from the 60's and 70's really appeal to me. They had odd shapes (remember Mike Liut?) and funny places to put the air holes (like Rogie Vachon).

One of my favorites for mask shapes has always been Cesare Maniago.

Many remember Cesare as one of the all-time greats for the Minnesota North Stars, but he actually got his start in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960.

A brief stint with the Montreal Canadiens backing up the legendary Jacques Plante as well as New York playing for the Rangers were next before he finally landed a solid position with the Stars in 1967.

He was the first draft choice for the upstart Minnesota team in the expansion draft and immediately became their starting goalie. He led the team to a playoff birth in five of their fist six seasons.

After a decline in the team nearly a decade later, Cesare was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks where he spent two years and ultimately ended his playing days there.

He finished with 190 wins in 568 games played with 30 shutouts and a GAA of 3.27. Not overly impressive, but remember, he played on an expansion team and was actually one of the top goalies from that era.

Now, onto the mask. He not only had some awesome masks, but the hair to accent it.

Today's masks just don't carry that type of flare.

Cesare more than anyone found a way to make that hairstyle work. And take a look at the pounding the mask has taken. Gotta love it!

Now this mask was made by legendary mask maker Lefty Wilson. Lefty began his career as a backup goalie for the likes of Don Simmons, Harry Lumley and the great Detroit Red Wings goalie - Terry Sawchuk. Lefty eventually became the Wings' trainer after his playing days were over.

Wilson actually designed the famous Sawchuk 'cat' mask (among others). But this Maniago mask really had some character.

Crude and simple, Lefty was known for making masks more lightweight and recognizable. He is credited with extending the careers of a number of goalers (including Sawchuk).

What I like about the Maniago mask is that the eye holes are so big, you really get a goos glimpse at that menacing stare. Intimidation was the key. I also love the dark leather straps fixing the mask to Cesare's noggin.

Again, simple and very effective.

Here's a neat tidbit I found out about Cesare...he almost became the first goalie to score a goal way back in the 61/62 season with Hull-Ottawa of the EPHL.

"Those were the days when the goalie could skate across the red line, and I used to join the rush on a delayed penalty. One time I took a shot and hit the goal post. But that all ended in a game against Kitchener. Jean Ratelle was with them and they had a pretty good team. I was carrying the puck at their blueline and somebody hit me with a bodycheck that KO'd me. I was out like a light and went into convulsions. Imagine how that must have looked, a goalie knocked out at the other team's blueline. Anyway, I think that was the last time I ever rushed up the ice."

Maybe the trapezoid is a good idea.

3.5 out of 5 (although I'd love to give it a 4)

Alright....it's your turn to Rate My Mask!


  1. There really is no design...so 3 out of 5

  2. I'll give 'er a 3.5.... the thing I don't like about the one you used in your custom, is that the eyeholes are toooooo big. The mask is pretty much useless at that point. At least the other two you featured are somewhat safe.

  3. Cool, old school mask. 3. The hair does make a big difference.

    Also, DP has joined the Osgood revolution!


  4. He looks like Frankenstein. Old school, though, worth at least a 3.5. Good stuff, Brett.

  5. Lefty Wilson actually was just the trainer. The Wings didn't carry a backup in those days and so the trainer got called upon to play goal if there was an injury. The only teams to carry backups with any regularity were Toronto and Montreal.

    The other option was that the home team would have some junior/college kid in the stands who would suit up (for either team) in case of injury.

    Wilson did play goal as a junior and senior, so he wasn't completely inexperienced.

  6. Thanks for the info. I don't know how I missed that.

    Crazy to think that someone might get yanked out of the stands to play goal.

  7. There was a kid from the Marlies who got into a game that way - he was the goalie in the stands and suddenly had to suit up for Boston at MLG. Stoned the Leafs, to boot. Drawing a blank on the name, though.

  8. i am giving this mask a three out of five because i like the style -retro- but i don't like the shape of the mask or the way the holes on it are cut out.

  9. My favorite Maniago mask was the "pretzel" one he used before the white Wilson mask. The second white one with the smaller eye holes is, I think, one of the ugliest but most distinctive ever worn. 2.5 for the first white one ( was worn by a lot of goalies back then ), 1.0 for the second.

  10. I actually held this mask Very fragile as are most Lefties. I rate it 4+