A Face Only A Hockey Puck Could LoveS

Once upon a time, NHL goalies played without masks. Unsurprisingly, their faces often got all fucked up. In 1966, LIFE published an article, "The Goalie Is the Goat," that not only aimed to put a human countenance on "hockey's reviled and bludgeoned fall-guys," but featured a photo of what looked like a modern-day Frankenstein's monster.

This face belongs to Terry Sawchuk [wrote LIFE], a 36-year-old goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Re-created here, by a professional make-up artist and a doctor, are some of the more than 400 stitches he has earned during 16 years in the National Hockey League. Sawchuk has sustained other injuries not shown here: a slashed eyeball requiring three stitches, a 70% loss of function in his right arm because 60 bone chips were removed from his elbow. . . .

The list goes on. The point here, really, is that a certain type of fan is constantly bemoaning the fact that some professional sports seem to have grown less hard-core through the years, e.g, no more NFL players lining up on every snap, on both sides of the ball, a la macho gridiron coots like Bednarik. All right. But if some fool ever starts bleating about how today's NHL goalies are wusses because they wear helmets and face masks — well, maybe a 90 mph puck to the cheekbone or chin of the bemoaner will shut up that nonsense for good.

[Read more about Terry Sawchuk's brilliant career and his turbulent, booze-addled, too-brief life.]

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com. Picture This is his weekly, and occasionally more frequent, feature for The Stacks.

Photo Credit: Ralph Morse—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images