First call for mandatory goalie masks? Conn Smythe, 1929
Stumbled across this while doing other research:
Montreal Gazette 11/14/1929
PROTECTION FOR HOCKEY GOALIES
Manager Smythe, of Leafs, Suggests That Masks Be Worn In All Matches
Manager Connie Smythe, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, intends to bring before the next meeting of the N.H.L. a proposal to compel all goalkeepers in the league to wear masks. He claims that under the new rules [liberalizing passing] goalkeepers are facing greater chances of injury than heretofore and in order to prevent a serious accident, they should be protected as much as possible by headgear and especially constructed masks.
Lorne Chabot, of the Leafs, was struck in the face at today's practice and sustained a gash requiring four stitches. Chabot was knocked unconscious by one of young Charley Conacher's terrific drives from about twenty feet in front of the net. Chabot was lucky to escape a more serious injury. Although he will play in tomorrow night's opening game his face will be heavily bandaged.
Manager Smythe states that several managers in the N.H.L. are in favor of the masks for goalkeepers, but their players do not want to be the first to use the device. If all teams were compelled to do so it would be quickly adopted.
To the best of my knowledge, this would be the earliest call for mandatory goalie masks in the NHL.
Clint Benedict became the first to don a mask during gameplay three months later, on 2/20/1930.
The last goalie to wear a mask was Andy Brown, on 4/7/1974.
Goalie masks were formally mandated in 2012, eighty-three years after Smythe proposed the rule.
Interesting find tarheel, and yes, just 2yrs ago the NHL finally inserts that Rule in its book. Pretty incredible really. Technically you couldve gone out there maskless through the 70's, 80's, 90's & 00's and as there was nothing in the statutes prohibiting such, I often wondered how the league mightve dealt with it. Pretty funny to contemplate actually.
Helmets as well having an interesting history. Barney Stanley designed a helmet & presented it to the NHL BOG's in 1927, however it was rejected as being unnecessary at that time, redundant. George Owen of Boston however did wear a Stanley model in 1928/29, the first in the NHL (and the last to not wear a helmet at all Craig MacTavish in 96/97). Then in 1933 you had the Ace Bailey incident. Everyone appalled, freaked right out, none more so than the Leafs & Bruins.
Art Ross designed a helmet & mandated that his club wear them, however, most of the players hated them & refused. Eddie Shore however did keep his & wore one for the rest of his career. The Leafs as well tried it out, though again, the players rejecting them after a game or three. King Clancy rejecting it after about one shift, throwing it at Coach Dick Irvin behind the Leafs bench and no doubt with a sneer on his face, profanity on his mind. Buried somewhere around here is the history of the mask, that as assumed & accredited to a woman playing for McGill University the first to wear one (fencing mask) may not actually be the case at all. Goaltender in Europe preceding that event.
^^^ Yes isnt though eh? Amazing what you find. In this instance Im actually a little surprised that league be damned, Smythe just didnt order his goalie to don some kind of a mask regardless. Same thing later on in the 30's with the helmet trials after Bailey was felled. The Major there ran that organization with an Iron Fist. You were seen being pleasant to a Blackhawk, Red Wing, any opposition player and he considered it "Fraternizing With the Enemy". If you criticized the organization in any way whatsoever, "Treason". One way ticket to the minors. Traded. He'd rarely show up in the dressing room before a game or in-between periods but when he did, look out. Absolutely excoriate first the entire team, then go from player-player just taking them apart inch by inch. Didnt matter if it was Ted Kennedy or whomever. Rip right into them for substandard play.... and very protective of his players, riling against what he'd considered dirty play or a cheap shot. Chasing Bill Gadsby out of the building post game with invective & profanity, "your days are numbered" etc after Bill had leveled Horton with a totally clean check, putting Tim in the hospital.