Jacques Plante becomes first goalie in NHL to wear a face mask

Black and white photograph of Jacques Plante, a young man wearing a knitted cap and a hockey sweater with 'Citadelles Quebec' and a graphic of a ship on the front. The photo is dated 1948.
Jacques Plante, 1948

On November 1, 1959, Jacques Plante’s nose was broken by a shot three minutes into a game against the New York Rangers.

He was taken to the dressing room for stitches. When he returned, he was wearing the crude home-made goaltender mask that he had been using in practices.

His coach was livid about the mask, but he had no other goaltender to call upon and Plante refused to return to the goal unless he wore the mask.

His coach agreed on the condition that Plante discard the mask when the cut healed.

The team won that game 3–1. During the following days Plante refused to discard the mask, and as the Canadiens continued to win, his coach was less vocal about it. Their unbeaten streak stretched to 18 games.

Then Plante did not wear the mask, at his coach’s request, against Detroit on March 8, 1960. The team lost 3–0, and the mask returned for good the next night.

That year the Canadiens won their fifth straight Stanley Cup.


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