The first Anaheim Ducks era mask vote for the Play In in the inaugural Tournament of Greatness features a pair of masks with somewhat infamous connotations. Either Jonas Hiller's Movember mask from the 2011-12 season that saw the Ducks tank so hard it eventually cost Randy Carlyle his job, or John Gibson's PacMan mask from this past season that saw him miss extended time will advance to face Frederik Andersen's Teemu Selanne tribute mask from this past season.
Jonas Hiller Movember 2011-12
It began so innocently with such a great idea- after a season where a simple matte black with a gold Ducks logo on the forehead was Hiller's mask design of choice, he decided to help support the Movember movement with a tribute mask. According to an interview on Goalie Guild, Hiller's mask company Airxess wanted him to have a special edition mask that they could sell due to high demand, and the Swiss puck stopper came up with the Movember idea. Every single member of the team is featured in glossy photos on the white matte mask with mustaches drawn on them, and of course there's the hilarious backplate featuring Hiller himself.
So for such a great concept with awesome execution, why isn't this mask more beloved by Ducks fans? Because the team and Hiller were putridly bad during the month of Novemeber, 2011. Hiller, coming off an All Star season that was cut short by a bout with vertigo and forced Dan Ellis and Ray Emery to take the reigns as emergency acquisitions, won just two of the 12 games he appeared in on the month, going 2-6-3 while posting a save percentage of .895 and 3.54 goals against average. He conceded four or more goals six times, including three five goal against outings and getting the hook twice. As a team the Ducks went 2-8-3 in the month featuring a seven game winless streak, and after opening the season 7-13-4 overall then-head coach Randy Carlyle was given the boot and Bruce Boudreau was hired as his replacement. Hiller would go on to play a franchise single season record 73 games for the team in 11-12, and had his worst year statistically in Anaheim.
John Gibson Pac Man 2014-15
Swedish mask artist David Gunnarsson has such a presence around the league, the design man and airbrush wizard responsible for Andersen, Henrik Lundqvist, Ben Bishop and more's mask artwork. It's only appropriate that the Ducks wiz-kid prospect would link up with him. After sporting an asylum theme in his rookie year with the club, Gunnarsson came back with a retro gaming theme for 14-15 giving Gibson Pac Man. This wasn't the only mask Gunnarsson made with a retro gaming theme for Gibson during the season, as there was also a Space Invaders themed one that included a Duck-ified version of the Queen from the movie Alien on the crown that he never wore in a game.
A season after being thrust in to the starting role in the playoffs following Andersen's injury and Hiller's inability to win against the Kings, 14-15 was a frustrating season for Gibson that saw him appear in 23 games for Anaheim and just 11 with the Norfolk Admirals after getting dinged multiple times during the season. Four of those NHL starts came in October, before he went down with an injury and it allowed Andersen to take the starting spot and run. Yet when Andersen was injured against Tampa Bay in February, Gibson held the fort with a 6-3-0 stretch in his absence, and would put together a trio of three consecutive wins from February 20 till the end of the regular season. Try as the Ducks broadcast team might to make it seem there was a goaltending controversy, Gibson allowed three or more goals in three of his final four appearances and watched from the bench during the playoffs.
It's Voting Time
Which mask design is better? Vote in the poll below, share your thoughts in the comments, and remember if you comment about it on Twitter with #ACmaskTOG your chosen mask will get another point added to the total. The poll is open until noon on August 6, so be sure to cast your vote and share with as many Ducks fans as you know!
Historical game information and stats in this article taken from www.hockey-reference.com