Suggestions For A New Tretiak Goalie Mask
Open Net by
George Plimpton

I was saddened to hear that celebrated writer George Plimpton had passed away. Plimpton was a pioneer of modern participatory journalism, relaying the pressures and pleasures of playing professional sports. He wrote about quarterbacking for the Detroit Lions ("Paper Lion"), golfing on the PGA tour ("Bogey Man") and boxing with light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore ("Shadow Box"). Hockey fans remember him for his book Open Net. The book from the 1970s, which is being re-released in October, 2003, Plimpton dons the goaltending pads during a Boston Bruins training camp, and then actually played in a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

His passing reminded me of Open Net, a cult-classic in the hockey book world which for some reason I never had picked up before. I finally thumbed through it the other day, and am now kicking myself for not reading this earlier. Do yourself a favor hockey fans - get this book. It is an excellent read.

I'd like to share a short passage of the book with you. This passage certainly doesn't demonstrate the charm of the book or the writing ability, but it does deal with an angle that is dear to all fans of the 1972 Summit Series - Vladislav Tretiak.

Plimpton is talking about facemasks, and the early history of decorating them, when he mentions the Soviet goaltender.

"Even the Russians were intrigued by the facemask possibilities. A Moscow radio station had a competition for the most original facemask that listeners could design for Tretiak. Hundreds of suggestions were sent in, most using the motif of wolf or tiger heads.

The listeners also used the opposite approach: Someone sent in a mask painted to the likeness of a pretty girl, demure, with long eyelashes, a shy smile, the sort of face, so the assumption was, that might cause even the most hardened of Cossacks to take pause before zinging a puck at it.

The most original idea - at least of those I read about - was one which suggested that Tretiak affix a powerful electric beam to his mask to be used like a laser beam in a science fiction epic."

Thankfully Vladislav Tretiak didn't take up any of the contestants on their offers.