CHISAGO COUNTY, Minn. -- Twenty years ago, Todd Miska decided to help out a friend by painting a goalie mask. He never imagined it would turn into a profitable business.
Today, the market is huge and there is no masking the fact that Miska is a major player in it. His masks are worn by nearly every goalie in the WCHA and many in the NHL, including both Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild. And it all started with a mask for Chicago great Eddie Belfour.
The masks start at around $500 and they can take up to four days to create. His results have earned quite a reputation, even with the toughest of clients like Harding, whose latest mask is a tribute to the fire fighters who rescued the teams equipment from a fire in Ottawa two months ago.
Miska's masks are more than just a random work of art. Each design is by design, describing the person behind the mask.
"Every mask has a story behind it," Miska explains. "Whether it's a young kid playing and his grandpa died or something that they did together, they want that image on there."
But the mask business is just part of his enterprise. He does snowmobile helmets, welding masks, military helmets and even Joe Mauer's catching helmet.
This month in Vancouver, Evgeni Nabakov of the Russian hockey team will be wearing a Miska mask.
"I thought this'll be really fun because everybody's going to see that," Miska added. "And who knows how far they'll go."
For the man behind the masks, that fun has brought him pretty far already.
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