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Was There NHL Without Helmets?

NHL Without Helmets

The NHL has changed a lot over the years. We’ve got new rules, new ways of playing, and even a few new teams. 

These days, you’re more likely to wear your helmet on the way to the rink than at any point during your game. 

But this wasn’t always true—in fact, it wasn’t until 1979-1980 that helmets became mandatory in professional hockey. 

Why weren’t helmets always required on ice and do they make hockey safer now that all players need them?

Before this period, serious head injuries were a significant problem for players and fans. Players often suffered concussions and other head injuries, but they often didn’t report these to avoid being taken off the ice. Even if they did get taken off the ice, they would often return to the game too soon after the injury occurred. This led to more serious problems later on in their lives.

Since then, more players have begun to wear visors on their helmets instead of just wearing a half shield or cage as they did previously. 

Experts say there is no evidence that helmets make hockey safer, but some people believe they are less likely to be hurt if they wear them while playing hockey.

Post pandemic, the NHL made it mandatory for players who entered the NHL after the 2019-20 to wear helmets during warmups.

The new helmet rule should help reduce these problems by making it clear that players must wear helmets when playing hockey.

It's the same with the Visor Rule (implemented since after 2013).

Many players choose to wear visors because they want extra protection, but there are still some that don’t like wearing them and would rather go without them. 

Some players who suffered a head injury and needed to wear one as part of their recovery process have chosen not to remove it after they recovered from their injuries. Others have been forced by their teams or leagues to wear one as part of policy changes made after several serious incidents occurred in recent years.

It’s important that you understand why certain hockey helmets are designed differently before buying one for yourself or your child.

But what’s the catch?

Experts say there is no evidence that helmets make hockey safer.

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Helmets are effective at preventing skull fractures and lacerations but less so at preventing concussions.

Hockey Helmet​ for Players

There are several reasons why helmets are not effective at preventing concussions.

  • Helmets are more effective at preventing skull fractures and lacerations than concussions.
  • Helmets do not prevent brain injuries, which is what concussions are.
  • Helmets do not prevent neck injuries, which is another common type of hockey injury.

As a result, many researchers conclude that hockey helmets should be allowed in sports because they don’t make the game any safer or increase the likelihood that a player will suffer an injury while wearing them in front of thousands of people on national television each week during the season’s peak months (November through March).

But hockey helmets can’t protect the brain from concussions.

If you think about it, the helmets are designed to protect the skull, not the brain. 

Concussions are caused by a sudden acceleration or deceleration of your head and brain inside your skull, which happens when you get hit in the head by something like another player’s stick or puck. 

Helmets won’t prevent that type of jarring movement if it occurs outside of them (like if someone hits their own forehead with a stick). So while helmets may reduce some injuries such as skull fractures and lacerations, they’re definitely not going to do anything for concussions.

So why wear them at all?

Hockey Gloves

Hockey Gloves​

Helmets may not make hockey 100% safer, but we do know that they help prevent skull fractures and lacerations.

Helmets are effective at preventing skull fractures and lacerations, but they also don’t prevent concussions. The NHL had not required players to wear helmets since 1997, when it was under pressure from players who said they wanted to show their individuality.

To Conclude

So is hockey safe without helmets? The evidence is mixed on this point and needs further study. But it’s not just helmets, players need to wear an entire array of  hockey protective gear pregame and during the game sessions.