A Pennsylvania youth hockey player and a hockey mask artist were on the receiving end of online mob after their goalie mask depicting President Donald Trump holding a trowel and a brick was shown on social media.
The depiction is an obvious nod to Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to “build a wall” between the United States and Mexico. There is also a clear reference to a long list of hockey players who had “wall” in their nickname, including 4 time Stanley cup champion Johnny Bower, who went by the name “The China Wall,” as well as Nikolai Khabibulin, a Russian former professional ice hockey goaltender who was known by the nickname “The ‘Bulin Wall.”
The artist behind the Trump-based mask is named Doug Wagner, an artist who has been working with goalie masks for over two decades. In an interview with USA Today, Wagner says he didn’t have a problem with painting the mask for the 14-year-old.
“They asked if I wanted to paint it and I said, ‘Sure. Why not?’ he told the newspaper. “Personally, I would have picked something different. It’s a hot topic. It’d be a bit too far for me if it was my mask.”
The mask was a $900 gift to the teen from his parents, who themselves are Trump supporters.
“It’s freedom of expression,” Wager told USA Today. “It’s not like they wanted a Mexican flag with a slash through it or anything like that. I think they wanted to be funny. Normally, there’s no reason why anyone would be upset over having the President of the United States on a mask. Unfortunately, this is the kind of thing that people take offence to and, in my opinion, it’s a willful act to be outraged.”
There has been some online backlash, though.
Some are even speculating that the mask itself is dangerous to wear on the ice, as it could cause the opposing team to try and aim for the head of the goalie.
The fact that the mask depicting the President of the United States could spark such aggression from either political side is telling of the times we live in today.
One commenter online noted that a mask depicting President Trump, a “known sex predator,” should be banned in all contexts.
Even if Trump was a “bad guy,” this wouldn’t be the first goalie mask designed to depict characters of an inappropriate nature. In the NHL, goalies have had masks depicting gangsters like Antero Niittymaki’s mask depicting Al Capone’s right-hand man, Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti. Another goalie, Petr Mrazek had a painting of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin on his mask, a character who in different episodes beat up a teenaged boy, pushed a teen girls face into a fire extinguisher, and roundhouse kicked Lucy from The Peanuts Comics in the face.
This is all a longwinded justification for something that is obviously a slightly edgy joke about how the kid is a wall in net. Our culture’s inability to take a joke has taken a worrying turn, and one that it may take years to recover from. How does anyone know if a joke is okay anymore? Not only do jokes have to be okay at the time that you say them, but now, you have to be sure to consider that your words could be used against you in the future.
Goalie masks are a fun way for people to express themselves, it’s a harmless part of the game that allows for some personality to shine through.
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