Here's a photo of Jacques Plante, considered by some to be one of the best goalies to ever play the game of ice hockey.
During the 1959 season with the Montreal Canadiens, Jacques took a hard slap shot to the face. The puck broke his nose and opened a nasty gash across his cheek.
You see, back in 1959, a mask or helmet to protect a goalie's noggin was taboo. It was frowned upon. The position was therefore played mostly standing since blocking a shot from the knees usually resulted in injury to the head and neck.
A long-time sufferer of sinusitis and a reasonable man who had grown tired of pucks bouncing off of his face, Jacques returned to the match after his wound was stitched sporting a fiberglass face protector.
Jacques's coach was pissed. He demanded that the goalie take it off. Quite sensibly, Plante stood his ground and refused to play without it. His coach, not having another goalie in reserve, finally relented and let Jacques play with the mask on the condition that once the nose healed, Jacques would stop wearing it.
The Canadiens won that night - and then went on to win their next eighteen straight - with Jacques sporting the head gear.
During their nineteenth match-up, the coach got the better of Jacques so he played without it and - you guessed it -
The mask returned for the rest of the season and the Canadiens took home the Stanley Cup.
It is now (thankfully) required equipment.
My hat is off to Jacques Plante. I can imagine him in the locker room on that fateful night inspecting his mashed nose and new scar in the mirror. I am certain two words went through his head (probably in French).
January 17, 1929 - February 27, 1986