Best Canucks Masks, Round I: Kirk McLean vs. Roberto Luongo

MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASK. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

It's only natural we end the first round with a battle of the heavyweights: the two netminders who collectively own nearly all off the franchise goalie records and two guys who used plenty of mask designs during their lengthy tenures in Vancouver. To that point, I'm not going to bother narrowing this round down to one design per player. Since there are plenty to consider, feel free to pick one specific design or the overall aesthetics of one guy's masks, whichever you prefer.

Captain Kirk against Bobby Lu. It's our own personal clash of the goalie titans. It sucks to have to pick between the two of them.

That said, please pick now between the two of them.

Kirk McLean

You don't really need a background on McLean do you? OK, we'll give a quick one because if anyone sees you reading this you lose your Canucks fan card and tinfoil hat.

McLean was selected 107th overall by the Devils in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, eight spots ahead of Vancouver's six round pick of Jeff Korchinski and ten spots ahead of some bloke named Brett Hull. While he'd eventually play a handful of games with New Jersey, their system was stocked with goaltending prospects like Craig Billington, Chris Terreri and Sean Burke. After dealing with some injuries while in the AHL, NJ moved him to Vancouver at the 1988 draft along with Greg Adams and a second rounder (Leif Rohlin) in exchange for Patrik Sundstrom and two picks.

McLean would have to wait a few seasons (namely for Pavel Bure in 1991 and Trevor Linden to hit his stride by 1990) but by 1994 would backstop the best Canucks team in over a decade. In the process he earned Vezina nominations in 1988 and 1991 and made the NHL All-Star Game in 1990 and 1992. He would go on to break several Canucks goaltending records, but since we're revisionist here, we'll focus on 1994 starting with the save in the first round against Calgary which pushed the game to a second OT and allowed Bure to be the hero. Vancouver would go on to brush off Dallas in the next round and finally Toronto where McLean became the first goalie in 42 years to record back-to-back shutouts. Heading up against the Rangers for the Cup McLean stole game 1 with 52 saves. The Rangers would of course take the Cup, but McLean smashed all existing franchise records (at the time) for a Vancouver goalie in the playoffs.

Post 1995 wasn't kind to Vancouver and Mike Keenan began the massive house cleaning in 1998 by moving McLean and Martin Gelinas to the Hurricanes for Geoff Sanderson, Enrico Ciccone and Sean Burke (Keenan would move Linden a month later and Burke would move Burke a year after that). McLean would play only eight games in Carolina before being moved to Florida and then finally landing with the Rangers as a free agent. He retired in 2001 but his final stat line for Vancouver reads like so: 516 games, 211 wins, 228 losses, 62 ties, 14,438 shots against, .887 SV% and a 3.28 GAA.

McLean Trivia: When McLean was moved to Florida, he served as the back-up to Sean Burke, the guy who replaced him in Vancouver. When McLean landed in New York two years later, he served as the back-up to Mike Richter, the guy who bested him in 1994 and also to replace Dan Cloutier, the previous back-up who eventually become Vancouver's starter two years later.

McLean Mask Gallery: McLean's 11 seasons in Vancouver spanned a dozen 10 many team branding changes but McLean always worked in the primary colors with the logo being secondary (the skate-in-rink especially). You've seen all these pics, but it gives you a quick stroll through memory lane and McLean's various designs which, though subtle, have inspired others. Also fair warning: #15 will make you sigh deeply. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

******************

Roberto Luongo

You don't really need a background on Lui do you? OK, we'll give a quick one because if anyone sees you reading this you'll be stripped nude, painted red, given a Flames baby bib and tossed onto 17th Avenue from a nondescript van.

Luongo was selected 4th overall in 1997, the highest pick ever used for a goalie until the Islanders did it again with DiPietro in 2000. This wasn't unusual for Luongo since he was also the highest QMJHL goalie ever drafted at #2. He made the jump from the Q to the AHL by 1999 and made his NHL debut in November 1998, claiming the starting role from Felix Potvin who was subsequently traded to (drumroll) Vancouver. It didn't take long for GM Mike MiLOLbury to jump all over Luongo's performances and, coupled with the DiPietro selection, allowed them to move Luongo and Olli Jokinen to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. If you don't laugh at that you don't have a soul.

While in Florida he split time with Trevor Kidd to start with before taking over the starting role in 2002. He continued to produce solidly on some unspectacular and non-playoff Panthers teams, gaining his first Vezina nod by 2004. By 2006 he laid claim to many Florida goaltending records, including most shutouts (26), games played (318), wins in a season (35) and shutouts in a season (7).

Keenan LOL'ed Luongo and Lukas Krajicek to Vancouver in June 2006 for Alex Auld, Bryan Allen and Todd Bertuzzi (more on that trade here). Luongo helped end several seasons of mediocre goaltending dating back to the McLean trade and backstopped the Canucks to the most wins in a season (54) and most points (117) in 2010-11, the first of two straight Presidents' Trophy seasons. He also received two more Vezina nods (2007 and 2011) in addition to a Hart nod in 2007. Like McLean he was in net for another Cup run that fell short with a game seven loss. Luongo also smashed many of the records previously held by McLean including total wins (224) and shutouts (33) along with season records like most saves in a single game (72...haha), longest shutout streak (242:36), most wins in a season (47), most games played in a season (75), most shutouts in a season (9) and lowest GAA in a season (2.11). The two franchise records that allude Luongo - lowest GAA and highest SV% - are currently held by the Canucks new presumed starter Cory Schneider.

Luongo Trivia: He's the only goalie to have won the PRESTIGIOUS Mark Messier Leadership award. If you're not fist pumping you don't have a soul.

Luongo Mask Gallery: [note: I did my best with this stroll down memory lane, so if I goofed scold me in the comments.] When Luongo first arrived in 2006 he went with a landscape and bear design [1] [2] [3]. The next season he wanted something that screamed Vancouver which meant the first time we saw Luongo's stylized Johnny Canuck. [4] [5] [6] By 2008 Luongo was named captain which meant altered designs with the "C" featured on the chin in addition to a mask to be used with the third jerseys (on left). [7] By 2009 he revised it ever so slightly. [8] He was stripped of the captaincy in 2010 and modified the lid as a result. [9] [10] By 2011 he altered his main mask to incorporate the anniversary logo on the chin. [11] He started last year with his normal mask but also weaved in another version of the Johnny Canuck (the Super Mario) [12] [13] [14] along with the Curt Ridley design for the third jerseys. [15] [16] All of this doesn't take into account some of his designs that didn't get much love, multiple third ones or ones used solely in practice.

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