Getty Images Tuukka Rask

In 2008, the NHL debuted the Winter Classic, a regular-season game that pays homage to hockey's roots outdoors. That first Winter Classic, a 2-1 shootout win for the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, was the first official outdoor NHL game played in the United States.

The NHL will play its ninth Winter Classic on Jan. 2 when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium. While the NHL has added other outdoor games and this year -- the Centennial Classic between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will take place on Jan. 1 -- the Winter Classic remains the pinnacle of open-air hockey. The festive nature of the Winter Classic has encouraged goalies to customize special masks for the occasion. Some have been good, some not so bad and some ugly.

We round up some of the best, most mediocre and worst masks in Winter Classic history.

The Good: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (2008)

Getty Images The Good: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres (2008)

While custom-made for the first Winter Classic, Miller's mask for was not that awe-inspiring. It did feature a toque fashioned from a hockey sock. The toque kept Miller's head warm and set an outdoor hockey precedent.

The Good: Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs (2013)

Getty Images The Good: Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs (2013)

His blue and white mask, emblazoned with the Leafs white throwback logo, depicts kids playing pond hockey in a touching tribute to how hockey was originally played. The passion fit Toronto perfectly.

The Good: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (2015)

Twitter The Good: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (2015)

Uncle Sam has found himself on many mediums but none quite as unique as Holtby's mask. The American icon sits on the forehead of the mask in all of his patriotic glory. Each side is adorned with a giant blue W, while the red and white stripes of the USA flag serve as the backdrop. This mask is so American it makes you think that hockey was created on this side of the Canadian border.

 

The Good: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins (2010)

Getty Images The Good: Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins (2010)

Thomas' mask honors long-time Bruins broadcaster Fred Cusick, who had died just four months earlier in September. Cusick is shown on the right side of the mask equipped with a black and yellow microphone, while the large Bruins 'B' logo appears on the left.

The Good: Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks (2017)

Twitter The Good: Scott Darling, Chicago Blackhawks (2017)

This mask has yet to see action, but a sneak peek did not disappoint. It celebrates the Cubs' World Series win with a sketch of Anthony Rizzo and a nod to Cubs' Hall of Fame announcer Harry Caray. The mask beautifully salutes Chicago and is fitting as the Hawks will face the Blues at Busch Stadium, home of the Cubs' arch-rivals, the Cardinals. (Blues backup Carter Hutton announced he is wearing a Cardinals-themed mask).

The Good: Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues (2017)

Twitter The Good: Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues (2017)

The masks's base background color is the Blues' original shade of blue. In paying tribute to St. Louis' most recognizable structure, each side has The Gateway Arch covered in icicles. Above them sits the Winter Classic logo, with "St. Louis" in bold letters on the forehead. But what really makes the mask unique is the backplate. It's a Viking ship, a nod to Allen's home province of New Brunswick.

Author's note: The Blues are my team and St. Louis is my hometown, so I'm slightly biased, but no matter how you look at it, Allen's mask is very solid.

The Not So Bad: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (2010)

Flickr The Not So Bad: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (2010)

This is probably one of the most creative masks, so it's too bad it never saw the ice. Rask's mask was colored the unique green of Fenway Park's Green Monster. It depicted a bruin smashing through with a tattered Yankees jersey. If Rask, Boston's backup at the time, had actually seen the ice, this could have made the good category.

The Not So Bad: Cristobal Huet, Chicago Blackhawks (2010)

Pintrest The Not So Bad: Cristobal Huet, Chicago Blackhawks (2010)

This mask also gave a nod the North Siders with the Wrigley Field marquee placed in the center. The Blackhawks' face logo is on each side of it and is finished nicely by a clean, white background. This mask does not blow you away, but it definitely catches the eye.

The Not So Bad: Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers (2011)

daveart.com The Not So Bad: Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers (2011)

The cream coloring and the cursive lettering are a letdown. However, the mask is saved by the Liberty Bell on its right side and Independence Hall on its left. That's a decent tribute to our nation's first capital.

The Not So Bad: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (2016)

Getty Images The Not So Bad: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins (2016)

Rask makes another appearance on this list, this time because of his New England Patriots-themed mask. Depicted on the mask are Pats stars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Hate or love Bill Belichick's team, the mask adequately represents some of New England's favorite sons.

The Ugly: Seymon Varlamov, Washington Capitals (2011)

Getty Images The Ugly: Seymon Varlamov, Washington Capitals (2011)

If this mask were to receive a letter grade, it would be a D, with "more effort wanted" circled in big letters. The generic Winter Classic logo is printed atop the mask, engulfed in what seems to be a big splash. It does nothing to show off the Caps' or the nation's capital's past. The masks looks like something one could pick up at Dick's Sporting Goods.

The Ugly: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (2015)

Getty Images The Ugly: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (2015)

While the mask does don feathers on the forehead (an obvious nod to the team's namesake), it otherwise lacks luster, with two of the Hawks' alternate logos taking up either side. Compared with the other masks Chicago netminders have worn for the Winter Classic, this one leaves a lot to be desired.

The Ugly: Mike Condon, Montreal Canadiens (2016)

Getty Images The Ugly: Mike Condon, Montreal Canadiens (2016)

This mask wasn't aesthetically unpleasant, but it was way off-base. Condon, a Massachusetts native and lifelong Patriots fan, honored longtime Patriots' coach Bill Belichick by putting him on the back of his mask along with four Lombardi trophies representing the four Super Bowls the coach has won in New England. We get it. Condon wanted to represent his childhood team when he came home to play, but he completely ignores the rich history of one of the NHL's most traditional teams. He literally flirted with the enemy.

-- Follow Marty Johnson on Twitter @rick_and_MARTY.