Ed Staniowski the Man and the Mask
Most likely, former NHL goalie Ed Staniowski may not be remembered much for his on-ice stats, but where he etched his name into hockey lore was right on his face – it was his unique, logo goalie mask.
The mask was custom made and while not the first of its kind, Staniowski says he was among the first wave of goalies in the 70s to paint their masks. Today, goalie masks are a pure art form, reflecting the personality of the goalie and carrying a custom design.
Staniowski’s design wasn’t just custom – it was legendary.
The protective mask was white with two huge Blues logos painted over the eye holes. There are vintage photos of Staniowski in his old Blues No. 31 jersey with his menacing Blues mask on, staring down a slapshot. The photo just oozes ounce after ounce of old-school hockey – a time where hair flowed freely and the living was easy across America and Canada.
The mask still exists, although Staniowski doesn’t own it. A collector in Florida found it on eBay and contacted Staniowski to help verify its authenticity.
“I told him there was a big blue streak of paint on the mask that you could only see from the inside where some paint got dripped. It almost looked like a tear,” he told Guy “The Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing and Brock Banner of the STLFanReport.com during an extensive interview.
He was able to help the collector verify that the mask was indeed the former NHL goalie’s. The collector offered to gift the mask to Staniowski, the rightful owner of the hockey mask.
They bartered a deal where the mask would be kept on display in Florida for fans to see, and the collector made “a sizable donation” to helping veterans through U.S. and Canadian Wounded Warrior veterans projects.
WATCH The Full interview here
Veterans are dear to his heart. He grew up the son of military parents who served in the Royal Canadian Armed Forces. The military discipline, the military detail helped him hone his hockey skills to the point where the Regina Pats called him. He played in Regina for four seasons. In 1973-74, he was 39-12-9 with the Pats.
After his playing career was over, at age 29, Staniowski entered military service with the Canadian Royal Army, where he served for 29 years as an officer. He spent time in war zones like Afghanistan and other hot zones.
He was fortunate enough to be part of a team of NHL players who got permission to bring the Stanley Cup to the war front.
“The Canadian soldiers were excited to get to touch the Cup, to get their picture taken with it,” he said, calling it one of many professional highlights for him as a military veteran himself.
“There were all kinds of jerseys over there, but I will tell you, I saw a lot of Blues jerseys out there,” Staniowski said.
According to an article about Staniowski in the Am-Pol Eagle (‘Staniowski followed in father’s footsteps’ Am-Pol Eagle, Feb. 25, 2011) “Ed was bothered by some physical issues throughout his career, particularly an injury to his catching hand, and he decided to retire from hockey in 1985. Hei had played pro hockey for 10 years, spending most of his time in the NHL with the St. Louis organization.
In his 10-year career, he played in 219 games with the Blues, the Winnipeg Jets, and the Hartford Whalers. His career record is 67-104-21. He allowed 818 goals against and had a career save percentage of .969. His career goals-against average stands at 4.07.
“At that point, he did what he would have done if he didn’t make it in pro hockey – he joined the military. Less than a year after leaving his sport the 30-year old was in basic training. His 25-year-old sergeant, who apparently didn’t know that Ed had been a professional athlete, told him: “You are the most uncoordinated thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Staniowski thought to himself: “You must have seen my last game.”
However, it wasn’t long before Ed started his second career with the Royal Regina Rifles in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. He was inspired not only by his father, who passed away in 1992, but also a brother who served in the Canadian military, according to the Am-Pol Eagle.
The pride of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Staniowski was selected in the second round of the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft by St. Louis. At age 20, he got to see action in 11 games and posted a 5-3-2 record his first year. In 1976-77, he played in 29 games, posting a 10-16-1 record. He ended up playing in 39 games in 1978-79.
As the Blues goalie along with teammate Mike Liut, Staniowski has seen his share of great players and great teammates. The recent passing of Bobby Plager touched the former goalie, who recalled with a smile the infamous Bob Plager hip check.
“As the goalie, I saw him do it a lot,” he joked. “You’d see a guy skating by the blue line and next thing you know, you’d see his skates fly up in the air and if they were lucky, the opponent would land back on their skates and skate away. Sometimes they weren’t so lucky.”
And while players from the 1970s are remembered more for their grit and knuckles than they are as maestros on the ice, Staniowski has seen plenty of tough customers in his day.
“Bobby Hull was probably the best player I ever saw,” he remarked.
The great Blue Glenn Hall was an incredible mentor to Staniowski, along with two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Glenn Anderson, who also mentored the young Staniowski. He still holds both men in very high regard.
He also pays homage to the Plager Brothers Bobby and Barclay, Larry Patey whom he still is close to and fishes with regularly.
“Tell Larry Patey to tell you how I catch the most and the biggest fish when we go fishing,” he joked.
Recently, Staniowski’s family suffered a sudden and tragic loss of their daughter, Amy Schmaltz, who died suddenly while training for a Canadian national team competition. The family is still grieving. A St. Louis fan sent him a photo of his daughter recently, which he proudly displayed during our interview.
His daughter was beautiful.
If anyone bleeds more blue than Staniowski, that person had yet to be identified. He speaks in wistful tones when he speaks of games at the Old Arena – the Old Barn. The arena would be so electric, so full of energy.
“As soon as you hit the ice whether it was me, you heard the organist play the first few notes of “When The Saints Go Marching In,’ it was impossible not to be fired top for those games,” he recalled. The energy and the sound of the crowd all singing. it brought goosebumps.
Not so great memories in Detroit and Chicago among other enemy arenas.
In Chicago, the fans were particularly nasty (shocker) but the atmosphere created was incredible.
“In Chicago, the organist would play Christmas carols, so it was kind of fun, you knew Christmas was getting closer when you started hearing the Christmas songs,” he joked.
In Detroit, the rink was so antiquated “the board started to curve around the centerline and went all the way around the back of the goal. It was a strong setup, but great for players like the great Gordie Howe who scored a bunch of his goals there.”
The Blues teams he played with were epic, although they have no Stanley Cups to show for their effort. Players like Wayne Babych, Bernie Federko, Brian Sutter, and the Plager Brothers along with Patey, formed a tenacious attack.
So when the 2019 Blues won the Cup, former Blues players everywhere like Staniowski took some pride in watching then-captain Alex Pietrangelo take the Cup from Commission Gary Bettman.
Staniowski is also part of a growing number of former NHL players who are driven by their faith. His Christian faith has served him during the tragic loss of his daughter, as well as during times when he was stationed in war zones. Faith is central to who Ed Staniowski is. Faith is what has made him the man he is.
The Blues fans are among the best he’s encountered, and the reputation of the Blues Alumni group is the envy of many other franchises’ alumni players.
“The fans in St. Louis are great. They made my time there just a great time in every way.”
Thanks for reading!
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A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer, and contributor for the STL Fan Report.