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Hockey School
the professorHelmets

What are they made of?: A durable plastic shell with a foam-padded liner that is adjustable for head size. Most come equipped with a steel face cage fastened to the front with two screws. At the NHL level, players remove that cage and keep it open-faced or fasten a visor. At the college level and below, players keep the full cages or visors on.

helmetWhen did players start wearing them?: Hard to believe, but players were helmetless as late as the 1960s with the exception of players who were recovering from a head injury. Of course, goalies didn't start wearing masks until 1959, so it was par for the course back then. In the 1970s, most of the league began to wear them. And in the 1979-80 season, the league passed a rule stating all new players had to don helmets. That left the veterans to choose, and some declined, if you can believe it, through the mid 1990s. Craig MacTavish, now the coach of the Oilers, was the last player not to wear a helmet. He retired after the 1996-97 season.

Did you know?: In the early days, some of the more colorful characters wore headgear for looks. In 1892, Quebec's Herb Scott wore a pink handkerchief around his head in a game against Ottawa. In a Stanley Cup game in 1905, referee Mike Grant, expecting some rough play, wore a construction worker's hard hat.

The lingo: Helmets are known, around the rinks, as buckets and lids.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan

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