For those of you that have been wondering what that game is that uses a hard, oval shaped disc that players hit with a stick into a goal that showed up on television, hockey is back! After their year long walk in the wilderness, the National Hockey League returned in 2005 and, as well as bringing some new rules to increase the action, also brought back one of the most original parts of sports, the goaltender's mask. These things can sometimes be works of art on their own!
From the early days of Gerry Cheevers and the stitches on his mask (indicative of where pucks had pummeled his face), the goalie's mask in hockey has become perhaps one of the most indicative and identifying pieces of equipment in sports today. Source for Sports has brought the celebrity mask auction to the people, through their website (sourceforsports.com) and the NHL, as they attempt to "Shoot For A Cure". The second annual auction of the celebrity painted goalie masks will help benefit the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations.
Poker has gotten in on the act as well. Some of the biggest names in the game today have joined in by designing and signing the "World Poker Champions" goaltender's mask that is being auctioned by Source for Sports. The mask, which can be viewed at sourceforsports.com/mask auction, is signed by some of the biggest names in the game today, including Phil Gordon, Amir Vahedi, Layne Flack, Annie Duke, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller), among others. It comes in a display case (who would want to ruin it by wearing it in a game?) and is only one of the featured pieces in the auction
Golfing great Tiger Woods, basketball legend Michael Jordan, hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky and the Rolling Stones also have masks that are up for grabs to the highest bidder. "There's a mystique about the painted goalie mask. It's the goalie's character. It's their personality," says Paul La Vigne, Marketing Manager for Source For Sports. "Getting celebrities to bring out their personality on this type of canvas is very exciting." The masks were donated by Mission Itech Hockey and are currently being physically displayed at the Hockey Hall of Fame. "The Hockey Hall of Fame displays legendary masks by some of the game's greatest goalies. They embody both the heritage and the change we've seen in the game. These celebrity masks complement our collection," says Phil Pritchard, the hall's curator.
Last year's auction brought a record bid for a goalie mask, when the equipment designed and painted by "Hockey Night In Canada" legend Don Cherry was purchased for $16,000. While the starting bids for this year's masks aren't cheap ($2,500 is where they start), it is a great chance to help out a very worthy cause and poker is a part of it! For more information on the "Shoot For A Cure" auction or to take a look at the masks themselves, be sure to visit the website of the National Hockey League at nhl.com or go to the Source for Sports website at www.sourceforsports.com/maskauction auction.
Ed note: You don't have to wear a mask when playing at Party Poker, but it might help.