Since the NHL first made helmets mandatory by grandfathering in a rule in 1979, we’ve seen a number of makes and models come and go. An increased focus on the prevention of concussions has seen a few pumpkin sized helmets introduced in the last 10-15 years, thus making a great number of the models below obsolete. The standard CCM helmet has been perhaps the only true staple in lids that has stood the test of time, but for the purposes of this post we’re going to be looking at some of the less aesthetically pleasing buckets from years gone by.
16. Petr Klima’s Garbage Can
Klima’s helmet drew the ire of Don Cherry for years, not that I can blame him. It’s a bit square and heavy on the ear protection, but I’m sure more of Cherry’s criticism was directed at Klima’s Czech heritage than he was willing to let on.
15. Mats Naslund and His Torspo
Similar to the model worn by Klima, Naslund’s Torspo bucket wasn’t exactly the most ideal topper for his 5’7″ frame.
14. Robbie Ftorek’s Blue Ball
Say what you will about Robbie Ftorek’s coaching tactics, but his choice in head gear leaves much more to be desired. That thing barely matches the colour of the Nordiques’ uniforms. Ftorek would not stand to be outdone by Peter and Anton Stastny or Michel Goulet in terms of ugliest lid in Quebec City.
13. Arturs Irbe and the Converted Klima
Arturs Irbe took in inordinate number of pucks off his head during his playing days, it’s probably safe to wager that guys were intentionally drilling him in the melon based on the design of his mask.
12. Lemieux’s Inexcusable Jofa Golf Ball Helmet
Jofa was responsible for a number of the ugliest helmets ever to see the ice. For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, these Jofas were immensely popular among NHL stars for a brief period. Theoren Fleury, a helmet offender on several levels, was one of a few top-tier players to sport the golf ball style along with Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Phil Housley, and John MacLean.
11. Denis Savard, a True Canadien
Denis Savard, for the life of him, just never got it right with helmets. He was a pleasure to watch in his prime, but man, he always had an awful helmet. This Canadien model may have been his worst.
10. Craig Ramsay’s 12-sided Bucket
I thought these things were only reserved for the beginner’s class at Power Skating. Man-alive!
9. Danny Gare Does His Best Foligno Impression
Did Dick’s Sporting Goods in Buffalo have a sale on bad helmets in the 70s? The old Sabres were kind to this list…
8. Dominik Hasek Has Nothing on Martin Prusek
With all due disrespect to Dominik Hasek’s butt-ugly dome of choice, Martin Prusek somehow managed to trump him with this deplorable design.
7. The Great One’s Unsightly, Yet Iconic, Jofa Helmet
These are still a favourite among the beer-league jokester set. Thanks to the helmet’s severe lack of actual protection, it can no longer legally be worn. Consider it retired along with Gretz’s 99.
6. Lanny MacDonald and the Northland “Dome”
God bless that ‘stache, but what were you thinking with that lid?
5. Mike Foligno, King of the Northland “Dome”
Maybe it just looked better on Foligno, or perhaps it’s just the sight of him jumping up and down while sporting this atrocious piece of equipment – whatever the reason, Mike Foligno owned the “dome”.
4. Christian Ruuttu’s Klima-esque Jofa
I’ll admit that it may have had more to do with Ruuttu’s Finnish good looks, but I thought he was destined for stardom in the NHL. Unfortunately, his choice of helmet probably derailed his chances…. I think.
3. Stan Mikita’s Helmet No-No
Stan Mikita was the first player to use a curved blade on his stick. He essentially changed the way the puck could be shot. His helmet was an abomination.
2. Gilbert Perreault Popularizes Cooper XL7
It had to be another Buffalo Sabres’ great that would go out and put one of these on his head. Hockey gear aficionados everywhere agree that this is one of the ugliest helmet ever produced. They were fairly popular in minor hockey for a couple years in the 1980s, but persistent problems with pieces breaking off ultimately put an end to the XL7. Good riddance.
1. Butch Goring’s Life Partner Was His Helmet
From an NHL.com story: “Butch Goring was a 31-year-old hockey player who was wearing the same helmet that his father bought for him in 1961 in the Winnipeg as a 12-year-old. It was a Snaps helmet, which stood out because of how it looked and how many paint jobs it had and how it was covered by tape. But it was a comfortable lid, so why get something else?”