The NHL is celebrating Jacques Plante becoming the first goaltender to wear a mask, but as usual the league has screwed everything up.
It is true that Plante popularized the mask, first wearing it 50 years ago Sunday, but the NHL actually began in 1917. This date is important because on February 20, 1930 Clint Benedict returned from a broken nose wearing the first mask.
Benedict's mask didn't provide much protection. Five games after his return he got hit in the face and had to leave the game because of blood coming from his nose. It was almost 20 years before another goalie (Plante) would follow Benedict's example, but it is unfair to Benedict, the first goalie inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, to pretend he never wore a mask no matter how short-lived the experiment may have been.