With the 2010 Olympics just one year away, Switzerland’s Jonas Hiller will be battling with the likes of Martin Gerber and David Aebischer to see who will be chosen as the team’s starter in Vancouver. But with Gerber falling from grace earlier this season in Ottawa, the sophomore phenom in Anaheim is quickly proving he’s the new Swiss sensation. Hiller’s statistically stalwart season includes shutouts against Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Minnesota, as well as one of the highest save percentages (.922) in the league and a fabulous 2.22 GAA.
Hiller’s season is taking on a crucial as the Ducks battle for a playoff spot, so The Goalie Guild thought it was a perfect time to present you with our first-ever goalie helmet review. Everyone knows that a goalie’s helmet is the most creative piece of protective gear in all of sports, so we always enjoy a dissection and breakdown of the design and the philosophies behind the fresh paint. Therefore we hope you enjoy our look at the origin of Hiller’s new helmet!
Line up all of Hiller’s helmets worn throughout his career and you will find one constant in all of them – Aquarius. The 11th sign of the zodiac represents Hiller’s birthday and with this mythological character taking on more importance in European culture than it does in America, it has become the one constant symbol on his helmets.
Hiller, obviously proud of his Swiss heritage, turned to AIRXESS founder Alessandro Alec Voggel in Bern to paint the helmet. But instead of taking full control of the mask’s actual design, the Swiss-based company decided to work together with Hiller by creating the greatest goalie contest of the year. The first prize – someone’s lucky design would be brought to life and worn by Hiller in the NHL! The judge and jury was Hiller himself, as he looked through all of the designs and ultimately selected his favorite one.
And that is how Hiller ended up with the design you see above. Although there is very little information about the new helmet online, one Michel Maeder was named the contest’s winner. It’s tough to say if his exact design is the one that ultimately got applied to his helmet, but either way, the interactive contest brought a major buzz to goalie fans, Swiss natives and graphic artists around the world.
Using variable shades of orange, Hiller has a few other similar marks from the last helmet he wore, one that was nicely profiled last year on the Ducks website. There’s the metallic gold revised Ducks logo going along the left jaw-line and across the top of the helmet. Then on the right jaw-line there’s the old Mighty Ducks logo made famous by Disney. Smaller but more important, the timeless Swiss symbol can be found on the right side of the helmet as well. The helmet’s theme is centered around Aquarius, as he is ready to strike a whale with his brazen trident. And while most helmets are sometimes a coagulated series of bright colors and deep shading, the left side of Hiller’s helmet takes on a more minimalistic approach with a grayscaled oceanic theme, complete with palm trees.
What makes Hiller’s mask so unique, however, isn’t just the beautiful paint job. Right now you’re looking at a helmet that is not commonplace in the American goalie market. Just check out the chin-drop on this bad boy and you can see that it’s truly different from the familiar Itech, Warwick and Eddy masks. This one has an old-school look to it, almost eerily reminiscent of the helmets from the 1980’s.
Overall, Hiller’s helmet is a classic combination of authentic style and magnificent artistic integrity. Using his zodiac sign as the foundation of the artwork, Hiller’s partnership with AIRXESS in his native land of Switzerland has brought an even higher level of prominence to the artist and the country. Hiller’s helmet is certainly a great representation of his alignment with the Anaheim Ducks, but the amount of Swiss pride that went into this design cannot be mistaken.
While researching Hiller’s new helmet and wondering about the helmet’s actual origin, I uncovered another story that’s fit for members of The Goalie Guild. Another paradigm shift in the goalie helmet revolution is here and it’s about to hit America like a Level 5 tornado. Stay tuned, we’ll break it down for you Guild style in the next few days.