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Bucket List: Hockey’s Most Memorable Helmets

Helmets have changed a lot over the course of history- so let's take a look at some of the coolest, wackiest, and most legendary buckets!

The boardroom here at Keener HQ needed something to make it feel like a HOCKEY boardroom. It was quite dull for any company’s boardroom to be honest. We played with the idea of painting the walls to look like boards, buying life sized replica NHL trophies and even taking out the carpet and painting the floor to look like ice. None of these were anywhere near our budget of next to nothing. So I suggested decorating with classic hockey lids from the olden days! My business partner, Jason said, “Sure, whatever.” So I got to work searching the world for these classic hard hats. Now the boardroom looks complete. I found JOFAs, Coopers, Northlands, Canadiens, and even a Winnwell! To me they’re so synonymous with certain players I can almost picture them filling the helmet itself, sort of like when you see a photo of Conan O’Brien’s trademark hair — your mind fills in the rest.

There are tons of players who established an on-ice look that made them immediately recognizable, and a lot of that had to do with the helmet that they wore (or didn’t wear). I have posted about Lemieux’s and Billy Smith’s helmet history on Instagram, but you know that.

These days, though, helmets all kind of look the same, and there doesn’t seem to be much room for players to express themselves with their choice of melon topper. I guess they’re more concerned with player safety than making a fashion statement.

That’s a good thing I guess, but today I’m showing off some of the classic lids I have acquired in the last few years.

board room

jofa 235

Any photos of the Great One not wearing a Jofa 235 just look wrong. The 1996 All Star game, Wayne wore a CCM helmet for some reason and it just didn’t look like the same guy. We have a white Oilers and a black Kings on display.

The story goes that Wayne was at a summer practice when he was 17 and all the older guys weren’t wearing helmets. So like any impressional kid, Gretz walked onto the ice with no lid. Walter was in the audience and did not like this at all. He walked down the bench where Wayne was sitting, banged on the glass and yelled, ‘Put a helmet on!” One of Gretzky’s teammates at the time gave him the Jofa and said, “These are so light, it’s like not wearing a helmet at all.” And Wayne never looked back.

It was actually a pretty popular brain-saver back in the 80s, and a few of his Oilers teammates used it as well, including Jari “Pass-it-to-me-Gretz” Kurri and Kevin Lowe. But, Gretz was probably the most photographed player of all-time, so the visual is burnt into the brains of every hockey fan from the 80s and 90s.

It wasn’t the best looking lid at the dance, but if you ever see one of these helmets in the wild, you can’t help but picture Wayne doing the Gretzky shuffle after scoring 802.

gretz jofa

Gretzky in his CCM and JOFA buckets.

This JOFA ad is a blast from the past- we sure have come a long way with computer graphics.


This dome was worn by a few legends, such as Mike Foligno, Denis Potvin and Stan Mikita — in fact Northlands named it after Mikita, the player who made it famous— but to me it will always be synonymous with Lanny McDonald. I think that’s because Stan Mikita didn’t play in an era with as much television coverage as McDonald, and when it comes to Foligno, He’s too busy leaping around after goals to get a good look at his lid.

Truth be told, I always felt like this helmet made its owners look like they were wearing half a bowling ball, but the 70s and 80s were a time of fashion risk-taking, so I give it an A for effort.


The NHL’s most legendary moustache, and the namesake of his helmet.

nike quest/cooper sk 2000

Mario — as he lets me call him — didn’t have a whole lot of loyalty to any one particular helmet, which is kind of strange given how particular hockey players can be. But, even though he doesn’t link his identity to any particular bucket, a lot of us remember him in the 2002 Olympics.

Not his most recognizable bucket but he was wearing it that 2001-02 season in Pittsburgh and the Olympics when he let the pass from Pronger go between his legs right to Kariya for the nicest assist that was never on paper.

We have the Nike Quest on display and also a Cooper SK2000 that most would recognize Super Mario as wearing the first 8 seasons of his career and his first Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh rarely wore any stickers on their helmets throughout the ’80s and ’90s but there was one year they did in ’85-86, so ours is a tribute to that one!

mario2 1


You might be saying to yourself, “Why does that WinnWell helmet look so much like a Cooper SK 2000?” Well, why don’t you ask Tron? Better yet, I’ll just tell you. WinnWell made the iconic helmet through the ’70s until the company ran into some financial trouble. Players liked the new wave look of these helmets. They had sleek curves, predominant bumpers and protected your noggin oh so well, that Cooper acquired the patent and started producing the helmets. With some small modifications of course. Then Messier made the helmet a hockey icon.

I always felt like Messier probably didn’t need a helmet. He just seemed like he had a thicker skull than most — in a good way.

Mess started out wearing the Jofa like Wayner but switched to the WinnWell. Following a mid-game fight that cost him a few stitches, the biggest helmet available to him in the dressing room was the WinnWell. Otherwise he would’ve continued wearing the same Jofa lid.

Now, it’s hard to picture Moose without that chunky bucket with the leather ear loops.

Truth be told, we have an authentic WinnWell in our boardroom but the Messier isn’t it. It’s an SK 2000 made to look like a WinnWell. The authentic one is black and made up to be a Rick Paterson. What’s a Rick Paterson? I hear you there, I chose him only because he wore a black WinnWell and played for the Blackhawks, one of the only teams that used helmet decals at the time. Brian Propp and Tiger Williams used black one’s too but they played for teams that didn’t use team stickers or player numbers on noodle guard and that’s no fun.


jofa 280

Jofa produced some bold looks back in the day, but the Jofa 280 may be their biggest whiff. It was a strange design with an almost 90 degree angle where the back portion of the helmet attached to the front. I guess Jofa thought the next hot trend in helmets was corners.

It had its proponents, though. None more recognizable than ol’ Petr Klima. This is the bonnet he was wearing when he scored the triple OT winner in Game 1 of the 1990 Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins. We definitely needed this one at KJ!


canadien ch 75

There are some pretty rare helmets out there that only a couple of players ever wore, some only one player ever wore. The Canadien CH 75 is one of those helmets and it was worn for a brief time by the one and only Denis Savard! He was one of my all time favs!

The spin-o-ramas that guy could execute were art.

The goal where he dekes through every Oiler, on the ice AND on the bench, he was rocking a Canadien CH 75! Savard had no lid loyalty at all though. He deked his way through a number of different brands and styles, but the Canadien is peek Savard!

Some say the Canadien CH 75 looks a lot like the Cooper SK 600 and they’re right. The SK 600 was found on many goalies back in the 80s paired with the Cooper HM 30 cat eye cage (check out Bob Froese, Mike Vernon, Reggie Lemelin…) but you wouldn’t find it on many players.

As of this writing I cannot find any info on why these 2 helmets are so similar so I’m just going to assume it’s a WinnWell/Cooper situation again. Feel free to do some research and let me know your findings!


jofa 246

This is the look you get when you ask a child to draw Gretzky’s helmet. It’s close but looks slightly off somehow. It definitely has way more protection than the 235 and maybe this is why players like Borje Salming switched to it. I was never a fan of this one until I saw Salming with his covered in stickers. That’s when I knew KJI needed this for our collection. Not many know the reason he had ROOKIE across the forehead and the rainbows on each side of his head. The legend goes, Rookie was a friend in Sweden’s hockey company that he was just advertising for him. The rainbows were the company’s logo. Little did he know the stickers made him look like a woke new player! Way ahead of his time!

cooper xl-7

I don’t like to call things ugly, everyone has their own idea of beauty, but the Cooper XL-7 is ugly. When I was playing AA in the mid 80s I’d see this helmet from time to time and wonder why anyone would use this accordion of a lid? The idea was this new design and liner was supposed to keep your head cool. Maybe to try to cut down on fights by reducing hot heads.

One day an NHL player did wear this helmet in a game. And not just any NHL player, Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault! Gilbert had gone from no helmet to a Cooper SK 2000 and then to THIS! Cooper must have been desperate to get someone into this helmet to give it street cred to boost sales. But I can’t help but think of that Simpson’s episode when Homer designed that car. This is the helmet equivalent.

What’s strange about this is there’s only pictures online of him wearing it on the road, never at home. Like he was embarrassed to play in front of his friends and family with the Homer on his head. Lemieux did wear the same lid with Laval but tossed that thing as soon as he made the show.

But we have an XL-7 with the Sabres sticker on display in the boardroom if you ever want to come down for a closer look. It’s just as ugly close up.


ccm ht-2

No helmet display is complete without this classic. If you happened to watch a hockey game in the 80s or 90s you’ve seen this helmet. Yzerman wore it, Gilmour wore it, Every Sutter brother wore it, Youngblood wore it, Hell, even Barker wore it!

The CCM HT-2. It’s the classic, no nonsense, straight ahead-est hockey helmet of all time. “It’s about the logo on your chest, not the helmet on your head.” I’m pretty sure was CCM’s slogan back then.

With all those icons wearing the same noggin armor I had to have a few of these on display. We have Bourque, Modano, Christian, Linden, Bossy and Goulet. That’s an all star team right there.

The boardroom has a nearly complete helmet collection representing almost every helmet worn in the 80s and 90s. Billy Smith’s Koho, Lindros’s Cooper are there too, but there remains one that is just too hard to find…

barker wearing a yellow hockey helmet at keener jerseys office

jofa 366

Regardless of how many legends wore this lid it’s not widely available for any jersey company owner to find for their boardroom decor!

Mario Le Magnifique wore a Jofa 366, as did Jaromir Jagr, Teemu Selanne (the last to ever wear a Jofa helmet in the NHL), and a slew of others. Mario always scraped off the “3” on the front tag so that it just showed “66”, making it his own. Those are the details I love to discover about players’ equipment, whether it’s a helmet or a jersey.

So if you happen to come across a Jofa 366, let me know. And don’t tell me the 390 is pretty close, you just have to saw off the ear guards and add ear loops. I know, I just don’t want to buy a helmet and ruin it. I’ll wait for the real thing.


Teemu and Mario in their signature JOFAs

express yourself with your helmet

While helmets are becoming less and less a way for one to express themselves in the pros, the good news is that rec leagues don’t have quite the same restrictions as the NHL, so you can still rock a unique bucket. Not only that, skates are now becoming a way for players to get creative, too, so it’s a really cool time for hockey players, no matter what level you’re at.

I had a lot of fun strolling down memory lane on this one, and an equal amount of fun coming up with new terms for hockey helmets. I think “noodle guard” was my favorite. So, if you want more thoughts and opinions on hockey jerseys and hockey culture — as well as some new slang you can take to the dressing room — sign up for the 4 Shots with Keener newsletter below.

See you next Friday.

Noodle guard.

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A Little about Keener

Who is Keener?

Chris “Keener” Dougherty started customizing jerseys when he was 11. Over the next 20 years, Keener honed his craft to become a world-class customizer and leading expert on premium jersey customization.

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