DKM Hockey Podcast

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I bet she gives great Helmet

An earlier tweet today inspired this post about hockey helmets.  My first job was working at the local Play It Again Sports store owned by a neighbor.  When I turned 16 he offered me a job a couple days a week to help with hockey sales and purchases.  This was in the early - 90s, the "Industrial Revolution" for hockey.  This is when composite outsoles, slash inserts, dual density plastic, and insta-pump technology started hitting the shelves.  Remember the Sherwood Carbone?  Take that Warrior Dynasty!

But perhaps the most unique of all player equipment was the helmet.  And seriously folks, 2 years into Bill Clinton's first term, the hockey helmet had only been required equipment in the NHL for roughly 15 years.  So it was developed at a far different pace.  We all gush and find popular obscurity in the "Gretzky" Jofa helmet, but I found another to be a bit more odd:

The Itech Techlite.  It was designed for youngsters (or quite possibly Ski Jumpers) in the mid 1990's.  With no expandability and only velcro-backed foam pads to customize a fit, the high cost seemed the least repulsive.  And yes, nothing says SNIPER like the Eric Weinrich inspired yellow tint full visor.

Now, when I was a kid, we made fun of kids for wearing the "Foligno."  This probably gets mentioned by every blogger with Google when it comes to goofy helmets, but when I was a kid we made fun of anyone who wore this vert ramp special during shinny.  He was still rocking this helmet with the Leafs in the early 90's.


Of course, no one ever made fun of Lanny McDonald for wearing essentially the same helmet, but he's Lanny.  Look at that GLORIOUS Stache...

I'm going to skip Haaken Loob special and Petr Klima's mullet hider.  Everyone knows about those and google-fu will serve you well I'm sure.  Not may kids wore them because they were lame and I never saw them other than on TV.  However, the Jofa 390 was starting to get some "hair play" as Super Mario wore one.  I remember Vincent Damphousse more for wearing this helmet.  Actually, he wore the Jofa 366 which had open ears rather than ear guards.  He only wore it a during a small portion of his career. There's a great story somewhere that Damphousse came to the rink one day to find his teammates bowling with his helmet in the dressing room.  He was French-Canadien and wore a goofy helmet.  These things happen.

But of course, if you ever played in the 80's, chances are youre all too familiar with the Cooper SK2000 helmet.  You never realized how ugly this helmet was until you saw it without a cage.  However, some of my favorite memories as a kid playing and watching involve this helmet.  Lemieux's five goals score five different ways.  I learned how to win face-offs watching Messier in this helmet.  Ulf Samulson got the big ol' sucker punch from Tie Domi wearing one of these puppies.  If you did wear one, you know how thick the foam was on these.  You almost had to 'break in' the foam on one of these bad boys.  Finding yourself on the bottom of the pile was no picnic with how clunky one of these was.  The ear guards on these helmets were made with the most abrasive plastics on earth. 

Iron-on numbers, classy.  Judging by the crowd size, I'd say the Blue Jackets were in town.

But, as I got older and played at a higher level, I got to pick the helmet I wanted, which was the CCM HT2 Helmet.  I got my first HT2 when I was in Midgets.  These were beauties and you wore them until the foam started to disintegrate, long after it has surrendered any real protection.  Doug Gilmour wore one.  Wendel Clark, with his Hay Maker you could see coming from Saskatoon, wore one.  Cam Neely wore one.  Jeff Beukeboom wore one.  CCM made a 'safety first' version of these for the pros with a much reduced amount of foam so you looked cooler on TV (this is still a practice with helmets for the Pros today).  At 16, I felt like I was going to be somebody one day wearing this helmet.


As I look back, I think my all time favorite helmet is the CCM HT500.  Lightweight, good foam, great fitting, and thick plastic.  It's memories aren't as fond and are religated to beer leagues and adult nationals.  But, as Hockey started to follow the golf club marketing model, this puppy was only around for a year or two.  I cling to my Bauer 5000 now, it fits ye olde melon well.  I'm kind of in shock of where helmets are going to day.  Easton maskes some Green Goblin-looking kind of helmet.  There's some God awful Robocop Reeebok helmet that I see Pronger wearing.  "Dead or Alive, you're getting an elbow from me."  And of course, Messier is marketing his own line of helmets these days.  Dude, you're supposed to see your eyebrows when your helmet is on...

The SK2000.  Apparently, a properly fitted helmet was the last thing on Messier's mind, but he certainly used this to distinguish himself from the more talented Joby Messier

The HT500 on some 24 year-old punk right outta college.

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