Ask Shinny Baggataway: Costumes & Masks

by Shinny Baggataway

Boo! Welcome to the Halloween edition of Ask Shinny! This week’s questions are all in honour of my favourite holiday.  So bring on the questins about costumes and masks!

Adam G. age 9 from Dallas, TX wants to know:

Why are goalie masks so much bigger than everyone else’s.  Do the other players want big masks?

Ed Belfour's Goalie Mask
Ed Belfour’s Goalie Mask (Wikipedia Commons)

 Hi Adam!

With people like Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber hitting pucks at over 100 miles per hour, it’s no surprise modern goalies want as much protection as they can get when they’re between the pipes.  Because goalies are in the direct line of flying pucks most of the time they’re on the ice, their gear is heavier and thicker than the forwards and D-guys.

Goalie mask that you see today went through a lot of changes before they looked like the ones you see today.  The first NHL mask was a fibreglass cast of Jacques Plante’s face. From there, goaltenders experimented with different materials: leather, plastic, even wood.  It took a long time to find just the right style and material that would allow them to see what they were doing, protect them from pucks and sticks and yet not be too heavy.

Do the other players want to wear bigger masks?  Some equipment managers and coaches have admitted that they had to make players wear masks with visors when the NHL recommended it for safety. It’s a good bet that most players will leave the big, decorated headgear for the goalies.

Hi Shinny!

I am 10 and I would like to be in a costume at the games.  How old do you have to be to be the mascot?  Is there a school for people who want to be mascots?  

Joel P.  Calgary, Alberta

Hi Joel!

Calgary’s Harvey the Hound was the first NHL mascot
(wikimedia commons)

I talked to my friend, Alexander, who has been a mascot for in the NHL, the NFL and a few big theme parks.  According to Alex, there are no schools for costume character that he knows of, but he did attend a cheer clinic for mascots when he was in high school.   Alex started out goofing around in a bear outfit at his high school and from there auditioned to be one of the people wearing a tiger suit at his college’s sidelines.  After college, he attended Ringling Brothers Clown College in Palmetto, Florida.  This prepared him for a career playing everything from Captain Hook to Scooby Doo to few costumed critters who have celebrated touchdowns and goals. Even though he is officially out of school, he says he still takes classes in dance, tumbling, stage combat, and rappelling to stay fit and prepared for whatever clubs and parks want their characters to do next!

Even though all of the people in the NHL mascot costumes are grownups, Alex says the good news is that you don’t have to wait to sharpen your skills as a sideline entertainer.  Check with your school’s cheer sponsor to see if there is a place for a costume character on the squad.  You never know, it might lead you to a job shaking hands as Stormy or Harvey or S.J.Sharkie!

Gook luck and if you get inside of a suit, send pictures!

-Shinny B.

And that wraps it up for this week’s questions.  I hope everyone has a happy Halloween or Fall Festival!  I’ll see you next week!