It's no secret that goaltenders in the National Hockey League are a little quirky.
You'd almost have to be in order to volunteer to stand in front of pucks that travel in excess of 100 mph.
As the game has evolved, so has the goaltending position. For example, the butterfly goaltending style is employed by the overwhelming majority of goaltenders in hockey around the world.
However, there was a time where dropping to the ice to make a save would earn you a penalty. Thankfully, that rule was changed around 1917.
Those new to the sport may not realize that goaltenders never used to wear helmets either.
Legendary goaltender Jacques Plante started the trend of wearing a mask in the NHL in 1959.
According to a USA Hockey Magazine article, Plante was struck in the face by a shot during a game. After getting stitched up, he tried to get back on the ice with a mask he had been using in practice.
However, his coach, Toe Blake, had previously refused to let Plante wear the mask in a game. On this night, Plante refused to return to the ice without the mask and Blake relented.
From there, wearing a mask became more accepted and it didn't take long for goaltenders to put their unique stamp on them.
With that, here's the top five masks worn by goaltenders for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No. 5 Patrick Lalime
Patrick Lalime took the NHL by storm in the 1996-97 season when he started his career with a 16-game unbeaten streak (14-0-2).
That streak set an NHL record for the longest unbeaten streak for a goaltender beginning their career.
He finished the season with a 21-12-2 record to go along with a 2.95 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
His goalie mask was painted like ice and featured a cartoonish penguin breaking through the front.
Later in his career, he would feature Marvin the Martian on his helmets.
No. 4 Johan Hedberg
Has any other goaltender picked up a nickname based solely on their helmet design?
Hedberg had been playing for the Manitoba Moose of the International Hockey League during the 2000-01 season.
He was traded to the Penguins in March and was immediately thrown into the spotlight.
Because of the quick turnaround, Hedberg never got a chance to alter his helmet from the powder blue Manitoba Moose design. So, he kept it as it was.
Fans loved it and quickly nicknamed him "Moose," which was chanted after big saves. The nickname stuck with him for the rest of his NHL career.
Hedberg cemented his place in Penguins' history by leading the sixth-seeded Penguins to the Eastern Conference Finals that year.
No. 3 Tom Barrasso
Tom Barrasso was one of, if not, the greatest goaltender in Penguins history. He backstopped them to consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
BArrasso appeared in 460 games for the Penguins and posted a record of 226—153-53 to go along with a 3.27 GAA and a .896 GAA.
His most iconic mask is the one featured here, which Marc-Andre Fleury is paying tribute to this season.
No 2 Marc-Andre Fleury
Remember the Plante story above? Fleury does and it was the inspiration for the helmet design introduced prior to the 2012-13 season.
According to an In Goal Magazine article, Fleury describes the helmet design as being a big flower with a "Plante-type" mask in the middle of it.
The Plante mask part of it has cold, blue eyes shining through, which completes it perfectly.
No. 1 Ken Wregget
This isn't just the greatest helmet in the history of the Penguins, it ranks up there among the greats of all-time.
Just look at it! It's got the black and yellow confetti raining down the sides and the old "flying penguin" logo on the chin.
Oh, did we mention it has a rendition of Danny Devito as "The Penguin?" Because, guess what? It has a huge portrait of Danny Devito as "The Penguin" from "Batman" on the crown of the mask!
We don't know what it will take to dethrone Wregget, but it's going to have be something completely mind-blowing.
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