Despite a solid NHL career with stops in Philadelphia, Toronto and Colorado, former NHL goalie Doug Favell knew he wasn’t Hall of Fame material.
But his mask, the first to don a fully painted design, was deemed worthy of a spot on the wall. It’s been on display in Toronto’s shrine of hockey folklore since the mid 70s.
Or so he thought.
“This mask is not mine,” he said during an exclusive interview with CityNews’ Tom Hayes.
During a recent visit to the Hall, Favell noticed the original mask he donated had been replaced. The differences are clear, he says.
“You can see it has five holes on the side, the original only has three. The colour is not the same, the stem is wider. Unless you get up close to it, it’s hard to tell. I got up close and once I saw it – it wasn’t even close.”
Favell says he “lent” the Maple Leaf-emblazoned mask to the Hall when he retired in 1974. The mask was originally painted orange when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers, and later redesigned when he was traded to the Leafs.
Now the former Broad Street Bully is gearing up for a fight with the Hall.
“I don’t know where this mask came from and I’m wondering now where is my mask?” he asked. “Where is my mask that I loaned to them in the mid 70s? I’m still trying to get that answer.”
Current Hall curator Phil Pritchard told CityNews he has the original mask along with documentation that shows it was stolen and mysteriously returned with a new paint job.
He also says the Hall owns the mask, refuting Favell’s claim that he merely lent it to former curator Lefty Reid in 1974.
“It was a handshake and a verbal agreement to loan it to the Hall,” Favell stressed.
“I wasn’t going to get into the Hall, but at least my mask did,” he laughed. “I just kind of lent it and forgot about it.”
Pritchard says he didn’t realize the mask on display all these years was a replica, and claims to have a document from the former curator saying the original mask was donated, not lent.
“The two masks that we always thought were Doug’s have never left the Hall,” he said.
“If he’s legally donated it to us, it becomes property of the Hockey Hall of Fame. There’s a letter from Lefty Reid, our curator at the time, thanking him for the donation.”
A similar ownership battle is brewing over a jersey worn during the Miracle On Ice – when the USA won a Gold medal in 1980. Dave Christian now wants his game jersey back, but the Hall says it was donated and is now considered property of the HHOF.
Favell is still seeking answers as to what happened to the original mask, but if he determines it has been repainted and is at the Hall, he says he’ll ask for it back.
“I own the mask, but how did it get defaced and how did it leave the Hall and how did it get back to the Hall painted?” he wonders.
“It’s a piece of history. I was honoured that the Hall wanted it, but it’s tough to me because I just think that they don’t care about what has happened to the mask. This mask was replaced and I don’t know why. Hopefully the Hall will allow me to take my mask and then I can do what I want with it.”
Pritchard says he plans to meet with Favell to discuss, and hopefully unravel, the mystery of the mask.