The debate over a mandatory mask rule in the NHL rages on after Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara terrified dozens of children with his exposed face Tuesday night in Washington.
The NHL's many ugly, unsightly, homely and truly horrific-looking players are not required to wear masks, although the league would like that to become a mandatory rule soon. The NHL even released a photo representation of how an ugly player would look in a mask (pictured).
Sources say the issue was raised during the labor talks that led to a new collective bargaining agreement back in January, but the union balked on the mask provision over disagreement on who would determine which players are too disgusting to see.
"I think we can all agree that your Zdeno Charas, your Scott Hartnells, your Tyler Kennedys these are people so ugly that they shouldn't be allowed to show their face in public, let alone before tens of thousands in an arena and possibly millions more on TV," said NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr. "But when you start moving beyond the indisputably ugly to the questionably ugly, who makes that determination? We don't trust the owners to decide. Most of them look like frogs."
While many support player masks in the NHL, others say it would ruin the rich history of the sport.
"Ugly players didn't wear masks back in the glory days," said hockey analyst Don Cherry. "And players were uglier then, too, because they took shots off the face like men and were covered head to toe in scar tissue. Fans weren't disgusted to see them either, because fans were tough. But now we have all these women at games and all of these immigrants and if there's one thing I know about women and immigrants it's that they like fancy masks."
Many of today's current NHL players grew up playing in league that had mask rules to conceal the faces of ugly children.
"It might seem cruel to some people that I was forced to wear a mask at age five, but I thought it made me stronger," said Hartnell. "I knew that modeling or anything where I would have to see people wasn't a career choice for me, and it made me work even harder at hockey. I would be fine wearing a mask again to play. In fact, I wear one around the house so I don't risk catching a glimpse of myself in any mirrors."