After meeting with a Hockey Hall of Fame official on Wednesday, former Leafs goalie Doug Favell was reunited with the elusive mask he jokingly noted was “worse than a dog for running away.”
Favell lent the mask — the first of its kind to sport a painted design — to the Hall after retiring in the mid-1970s.
He thought it was hanging in the storied hockey shrine all these years, but realized during a recent trip there that the mask on display wasn’t his.
So where was it? And how did a replica end up hanging at the Hall?
Somewhere along the line, according to current HHOF curator Phil Pritchard, the original mask disappeared, only to be mysteriously returned with a new paint job.
The origin of the replica mask that was hanging in place of the original hasn’t been determined.
“It’s a mystery still,” admitted Pritchard. “We don’t know how it got painted, but there was a Good Samaritan somewhere who got it back to the Hall. We are going to keep researching and see what we can find out.”
Favell positively identified, and reclaimed, the original mask on Wednesday.
“It’s mine. I’m sure of it,” he said.
There was previously some debate concerning the ownership rights of the mask. If it was “donated” it would be the property of the Hall of Fame. But as Favell told CityNews, he “lent” it to the former curator, Lefty Reid.
The Hall has honoured that original arrangement.
“Phil has graciously given it to me and everything is copacetic, except we have a mystery,” Favell told CityNews reporter Tom Hayes.
“We don’t know exactly what happened and where it went to and why there is another mask. But the Hall has not disputed that it is my mask.”
Pritchard insisted the mix up doesn’t put into question the authenticity of other items in the Hall.
“We are reviewing our artifacts all the time,” he said. “We knew we had a Doug Favell mask the whole time…[but] thought we had two of them. And [Doug] recognized that one wasn’t the real one.”
“We believe that the artifacts we have on display are representing hockey as a whole around the world.”
Favell said he isn’t certain if the repainted mask can be restored.