Early Days – Little to No Protective Equipment
In the early days of hockey, there were no helmets, facemasks, or any sort of protective equipment, it just wasn’t anyone’s top priority. Not surprisingly, facial lacerations, concussions, and other head injuries were pretty common. It was rare in those days to see an NHL player who wasn’t missing a few front teeth.
The first hockey player to regularly wear a helmet was George Owen when he played for the Boston Bruins from 1928-29. Back then, helmets and protective gear weren’t required to play the game. In fact, due to peer and fan pressure, many players felt ridiculed and ashamed to wear a helmet.
Despite the repeated injuries, lacerations, concussions, and knocked-out teeth, the majority of hockey players refused to don protective gear for the next 40 years, until an incident in the late 1960’s would change the outlook on safety in hockey.
During a Minnesota North Stars game in January of 1968, Bill Masterton, the center for the North Stars, was skating towards an open puck after a pass. Before he could maneuver out of the way, two opposing players body checked him causing him to lose his balance and fall backwards, slamming his unprotected head into the hard ice.
Modern-Day NHL Helmets
As technology has progressed, so has the technology that goes into hockey helmets, and sporting helmets of all kinds. As concussions and lingering head injuries become a growing problem for players during their careers, and even after they retire, helmets are an ever important part of the game.
Hurricanes model trio of cloth face masks for annual team photo
"We know we have to do this to give us a chance," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "No one knows what's going on with this (virus), but we're being told if you wear this, it gives you a better chance to not get it or give it to other people. That's the message, plain and simple."
The players and staff were wearing three different types of masks. One had a large Hurricanes logo across the front on a split red and black background. Another had many small team logos on a black background and the third just read "CANES" with the storm flag inside the "C" in all capital letters across the front.
"I think guys are having fun with it," Hurricanes goalie James Reimer said. "Obviously you're trying to do your part. You had the Canes logos on there, and it is different. I think everyone is looking forward to a time when wearing masks won't be necessary, so you're just kind of grinding it out now and trying to make the best of it."
North Carolina governor and longtime Hurricanes fan Ray Cooper tweeted his approval of the picture and emphasized the importance of wearing a mask during the pandemic.
The hockey community can now showcase the support of their favorite team in a safe manner as the NHL announced today it has licensed FOCO to manufacture a product line of branded cloth face coverings for all 31 of the league's teams. The merchandise will be sold in packs of three for $24.99 on NHLShop.com.
"The health, well-being and safety of our fans and all communities across Canada, the United States and around the world, is our number one priority," said Kim Davis, NHL's executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs. "We're committed to assisting in the effort to support the face covering guidelines from the CDC and Health Canada with the important benefit and outcome of helping food banks across the U.S. and Canada in their efforts to feed people in need during this unprecedented time."
"As a longtime licensee of the NHL, FOCO is proud to participate in the NHL's campaign to support the COVID-19 relief efforts of Feeding America and Food Bank Canada," said Michael Lewis, CEO of FOCO. "In addition to manufacturing the face coverings, FOCO will also be making contributions to support the two organizations' efforts."
The use of cloth face coverings is one of the ways to limit the community spread of the coronavirus, which also includes washing your hands often, social distancing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
As the vast majority of Americans lack the experience of living through a contagion, stylizing cloth face coverings may encourage more citizens to practice the safety precautions needed to help reduce the spread of the respiratory virus.
François Legault's face mask puts Canadiens back in spotlight
Premier wears mask during COVID-19 news conference, but says there will be no parade if team miraculously wins its 25th Stanley Cup this year.
When the Quebec premier held his daily COVID-19 news conference at Place des Arts, he put on a bleu-blanc-rouge mask with the Canadiens logo on it that had been made by Longueuil company Image Folie.
Legault said the mask had been sent to him by Canadiens captain Shea Weber.
When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decided to “pause” the NHL season on March 12 because of the coronavirus, the Canadiens had a 31-31-9 record with 11 games remaining and appeared certain to miss the playoffs for the third straight season and the fourth time in five years. Their final regular-season game was slated for April 4 in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
NHL’s older coaches debate wearing masks, taking precautions
The NHL’s oldest head coach still worries about COVID-19 but not enough to stop doing his job. It’s a risk-reward proposition coaches and executives around sports are weighing, and while Florida assistant Mike Kitchen is the only one to so far opt out of hockey’s return, plenty of others are considering masking up behind the bench and taking other precautions in the middle of a pandemic.
”It’s a different world out there,” Bowness, 65, said. ”I’m going to have to adjust to it, there is no question. I just want to make sure I’m cautious, which we’ve been since this virus started, and I will continue to do that. My health – hey, I’m a grandfather now, my first grandkid. I intend on playing some golf with that kid down the road. I intend on being here a lot longer. So, yeah, am I going to be careful? Absolutely.”
”I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do,” Trotz said Wednesday on his 58th birthday. ”I’m not too concerned. I’m in pretty good health, but it affects everybody differently if you do get it. I don’t want to get it, so there’s a good chance I could have a mask behind the bench, but I haven’t decided yet. I should say I don’t want to give it to anybody if I have it, but I don’t.”
”We’re all doing everything we can not to bring it into our locker room,” Bowness said. ”Give our players credit, as well, because this is a big sacrifice for everyone and they’re looking after themselves.”
”It was possibly easier for me, because of the fact that I was pretty darn safe right from the start,” 53-year-old Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice said. ”I’m really confident in what goes on in our building, tested every second day, I don’t feel particularly exposed.”Tennessee Titans for NHL Face Masks
Early Days – Little to No Protective Equipment