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.
When the NHL announced it’s Return to Play Plan on May 26, 2020, many cast doubt on their ability to pull it off and questioned their decision to proceed with the season.Tennessee Titans for NHL Face Masks
The League has targeted Jan. 1, 2021 for the start of this season.
"If we have to pay out lots of cash, two-thirds of which is going to come back to us, that may cause some stress, but we'll have to deal with it if we're going to move forward. And by the same token, if the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we're owed.
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.