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Josh Harding's new mask is the 2013-14 NHL season's best

Josh Harding's new goalie maskJosh Harding's toque design is just perfect for outdoor games. (Courtesy of InGoal magazine)

By Allan Muir

The beauty of a goalie mask, as with all art, lies in the eye of the beholder. So you should probably set up a vision check with your local optometrist if you don't recognize Josh Harding's new bucket as the best of the year. By far.

Harding, the Minnesota Wild backup best known as the winner of the 2013 Masterton Trophy for his courageous fight against Multiple Sclerosis, has a history of working up some pretty sweet helmets with artist Todd Miska. Among the best were paint jobs to raise awareness for breast cancer research, highlight Harding's devotion to the band Rascal Flatts, and a pre-Miska tribute to classic masks from the 1960s and 1970s.

That's a tough legacy to live up to, but Miska pulled it off with a snugly fitting tribute to cold winter days spent playing the game on the frozen pond (or on an equally chilly street). The toque theme that dominates the upper half of the headgear is painted in a way that mimics the classic wool construction, all the way down to the pom-pom on top. There's also a Bauer logo that appears to be sewn on, snowflakes cascading down the sides and his nickname, Hards, prominent along the chin.

What a great piece of work. Think anyone will top this?

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