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Ranking the best hockey helmets of all time

Because we can.

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

For many individuals who grew up playing sports such as baseball, the nostalgia of not just the game itself, but of the experience, still hold strong in the hearts and souls of those who took the field. This nostalgia can take the form of photos, newspaper clippings, memories, of course, but also in the form of physical items.

Picture a father of three, taking the creaky wooden steps up to the attic, or marauding through what once was a childhood room, only to find sitting on top of old boxes or suitcases, a brown leather object. He picks it up, coughing because of the dust, but after brushing it off, is confronted and then comforted by the familiar sight and smell of his childhood baseball glove, broken in, battered, but well loved.

It may sound childish or even over-romanticised, but besides its usefulness in the moment, old sports equipment can be incredibly nostalgic. There’s a reason so many Facebook groups are simply dedicated to vintage gear of whatever kind you can find. Hockey is certainly no exception to this trend, with the items players popularise, from jerseys to skates, informing other hockey players, and even sometimes influencing pop culture if the player’s reach is large enough (for example, though it’s hardly the progenitor of the style, hockey and the “mullet” are intrinsically linked).

There aren’t many personalizations choices players can make in the NHL any more, as such niche things like tinted visors and short-cut jerseys aren’t really a thing now. However, one area in which players have then, and now, differentiated themselves is through their choice of helmet. Now, some may very well choose based on fit and comfort (which you definitely should for safety’s sake), but there can easily be trends. Take, for example, Jaromir Jagr’s iconic JOFA 390 in the 1990’s, directly inspired from teammate and idol Mario Lemieux.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Candiens 1995-96 Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

With this being said, at BSH, we wanted to rank the best and worst hockey “buckets” of all time to see which are fit for a king, and which deserve to be retired (if they haven’t already).


11. Mylec

Now, I’ve never seen anybody wear a Mylec anything, and for good reason. Mylec are really a roller and street hockey brand, so no wonder NHLers don’t use them. It’s almost certain this helmet wouldn’t pass safety standards anyway, so this was a short but sweet one.

10. Warrior

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Five Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

There are notable NHLers who represent Warrior, such as Leon Draisaitl and Mitch Marner, pictured above. Warrior are a pretty big modern brand who have slowly but surely extended their market share in the hockey industry. However, at least to me, all of their kit just feels on the cheaper side.

This isn’t meant to be a review, but with their new Alpha One helmet, I’ve only heard good things about it, though but they tend to still run pretty large, and this leads to them jostling a bit more that one would like. Otherwise, the design of their Krown line just never really proved to be that appealing, and the same reaction people had to the “spaceman” helmets of the 80’s and 90’s is what I have to Warrior, except in the opposite direction. They just are quite generic at best, and ugly at worst.

It’s just so bulky

9. Easton

Easton helmets are fairly inoffensive, and are very of the late 00’s, early 10’s era of the NHL. I remember a fair few players wearing these around when the NHL exited the 2004-05 NHL lockout, but by far, the best instance of one is when it caught a puck for Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers.

You’reeeeee out

8. Bauer

Florida Panthers v Washington Capitals - Game Six Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

This may be sacrilege for some, since Bauer are a massive brand (they’re even attempting to break into street fashion with BauerX), but they’re so ubiquitous and widespread that this has made Bauer a bit boring in all honesty. Nowadays, there are so few brands out there that you’re really mainly stuck with Bauer or CCM (especially with skates) which to me at least isn’t a good thing. They’re a pretty standard brand of helmet, and don’t look ugly, but they’re absolutely everywhere.

Personally, not many main brands of helmet fit me properly (being stuck in between a medium or large) so I have a negative reception off the bat to Bauer’s headgear offerings, but I guess if they’re good enough for Claude, they’re good enough for anyone.

7. CCM

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Five Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The same things I had to say about Bauer persist with CCM, except the design of CCM’s helmets are slightly better in my eyes. They’re just slightly more sleek and refined, which for a modern look, is a good thing.

As someone who started out wearing CCM and did for most of my hockey-playing life, they’re quality, but their older designs are certainly more iconic with the classic blocky logo.

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

6. Cooper

New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

You can’t mention Cooper without its most famous wearer in Mark Messier. There are certainly other players who wore these style of helmets, but none is more famous than him. It would be a sin to put a visor on a beast like this. These helmets are meant to be worn bare, with nothing separating your face from the puck or an errant stick other than pure determination.

These helmets are certainly ugly as sin, but that’s why we love them. It is simply an iconic look, and we’re all here for it.

5. NikeBauer

This helmet is an enigma, as it comes during a period where Nike acquired Bauer and displayed both company logos on its equipment. This ended in 2008, when Nike sold Bauer for $200 million as the larger company stopped manufacturing hockey equipment, but these were pretty interesting helmets if for the collaboration alone.

This is another post-lockout nostalgia machine, with finding them nowadays being extremely rare. This is truly the Ruth’s Chris of the hockey world (bonus points if you get the reference).

4. True

If anyone knows an NHL player who wears a True helmet, please do mention in the comments because I couldn’t find a single image.

This is a shame because True helmets have the best design of any modern helmet out there. They are also incredibly comfortable and are the most adjustable of any helmet I’ve ever tried out (especially for people who consider themselves in-between sizes).

They may not be iconic yet, but look out.

3. Reebok

Philadelphia Flyers v Phoenix Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Reebok acquired Jofa after the 2003-04 NHL season, so consider Reebok a continuation of what this company would have done if they kept at it.

Lots of NHL players wore these, from Jaromir Jagr (above) to Sidney Crosby, and from their “Reebok powered by Jofa” era, to the classic Rebook logo, all the way to the end with their modern simple font design, these were quality helmets.

It’s interesting that they wanted to capture the brand awareness that Jofa had at the time by “Nike Bauer-ing” themselves, but nonetheless, these helmets were definetly the “cool kids” of their era.

2. Nike

Sergei Fedorov

Segei Fedorov’s visor-less Nike helmet remains a classic look, one that struck fear into the souls of opponents. These helmets were definitely less popular, and they don’t pop up often in history, which makes their mystique all the more intriguing.

You don’t really think of Nike in hockey because they haven’t been involved in hockey for over a decade now, but back when they were, they made some pretty good skates, and the helmets weren’t bad either.

1. JOFA

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images

How could this not be number one? From Wayne Gretzky’s “barely a helmet” Jofa, to Jagr’s 390 and 690 (pictured above), to Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin’s early career, this brand was a powerhouse in the 1980’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s before their purchase by Reebok. It’s impossible not to love Jofa. Wearing one of these makes you feel like a rock star.

When you see a guy turn up to a beer league game in one of these, you’d better be afraid.