Last modified on 16 April 2009, at 00:13

History of the National Hockey League/1917–1942/Rules and innovations/Clint Benedict

Clint Benedict, shown in 1923, became the first goaltender to wear facial protection in a game in 1930.

Clint Benedict became the first goaltender to wear facial protection during a game, as he donned a leather mask to protect a broken nose on January 20, 1930. The mask obscured Benedict's vision, and he abandoned it shortly after. Later that season, Benedict was again hit by a puck, effectively ending his NHL career. It was not the first attempt at changing how goaltenders played their position. When the NHL was formed, the league abandoned the rule forbidding goaltenders from leaving their feet to make a save. While the NHA imposed a $2 fine every time a goalie left his feet, Calder dismissed the idea for the NHL. He was quoted as saying: "as far as I'm concerned, they can stand on their head if they choose to". The phrase became, and remains today, a popular way to describe a goaltender who plays a great game.