Hockey's 16 Ugliest Helmets

Since the NHL first made helmets mandatory by grandfathering in a rule in 1979, we’ve seen a number of makes and models come and go.  An increased focus on the prevention of concussions has seen a few pumpkin sized helmets introduced in the last 10-15 years, thus making a great number of the models below obsolete.  The standard CCM helmet has been perhaps the only true staple in lids that has stood the test of time, but for the purposes of this post we’re going to be looking at some of the less aesthetically pleasing buckets from years gone by.

16.  Petr Klima’s garbage can

Klima’s helmet drew the ire of Don Cherry for years, not that I can blame him.  It’s a bit square and heavy on the ear protection, but I’m sure more of Cherry’s criticism was directed at Klima’s Czech heritage than he was willing to let on.

15.  Mats Naslund and his Torspo

Similar to the model worn by Klima, Naslund’s Torspo bucket wasn’t exactly the most ideal topper for his 5’7″ frame.

14.  Robbie Ftorek’s blue ball

Say what you will about Robbie Ftorek’s coaching tactics, but his choice in head gear leaves much more to be desired.  That thing barely matches the colour of the Nordiques’ uniforms.  Ftorek would not stand to be outdone by Peter and Anton Stastny or Michel Goulet in terms of ugliest lid in Quebec City.

13.  Arturs Irbe and the converted Klima

Arturs Irbe took in inordinate number of pucks off his head during his playing days, it’s probably safe to wager that guys were intentionally drilling him in the melon based on the design of his mask.

12.  Lemieux’s inexcusable Jofa golf ball helmet


Jofa was responsible for a number of the ugliest helmets ever to see the ice.  For reasons unbeknownst to anyone, these Jofas were immensly popular among NHL stars for a brief period.  Theoren Fleury, a helmet offender on several levels, was one of a few top-tier players to sport the golf ball style along with Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Phil Housley, and John MacLean.

11.  Denis Savard, a true Canadien

Denis Savard, for the life of him, just never got it right with helmets.  He was a pleasure to watch in his prime, but man, he always had an awful helmet.  This Canadien model may have been his worst.

10.  Craig Ramsay’s 12-sided bucket


I thought these things were only reserved for the beginner’s class at Power Skating.  Man-alive!

9.  Danny Gare does his best Foligno impression

Did Dick’s Sporting Goods in Buffalo have a sale on bad helmets in the 70s?  The old Sabres were kind to this list…

8.  Dominik Hasek has nothing on Martin Prusek

With all due disrespect to Dominik Hasek’s butt-ugly dome of choice, Martin Prusek somehow managed to trump him with this deplorable design.

7.  The Great One’s unsightly, yet iconic, Jofa helmet

These are still a favourite among the beer-league jokester set.  Thanks to the helmet’s severe lack of actual protection, it can no longer legally be worn.  Consider it retired along with Gretz’s 99.

6.  Lanny MacDonald and the Northland “Dome”


God bless that ‘stache, but what were you thinking with that lid?

5.  Mike Foligno, king of the Northland “Dome”


Maybe it just looked better on Foligno, or perhaps it’s just the sight of him jumping up and down while sporting this atrocious piece of equipment – whatever the reason, Mike Foligno owned the “dome”.

4.  Christian Ruuttu’s Klima-esque Jofa


I’ll admit that it may have had more to do with Ruuttu’s Finnish good looks, but I thought he was destined for stardom in the NHL.  Unfortunately, his choice of helmet probably derailed his chances…. I think.

3.  Stan Mikita gave a lot to hockey, his helmet does not apply to that statement


Stan Mikita was the first player to use a curved blade on his stick.  He essentially changed the way the puck could be shot.  His helmet was an abomination.

2.  Gilbert Perreault popularizes the Cooper XL7


It had to be another Buffalo Sabres’ great that would go out and put one of these on his head.  Hockey gear aficionados everywhere agree that this is one of the ugliest helmet ever produced.  They were fairly popular in minor hockey for a couple years in the 1980s, but persistent problems with pieces breaking off ultimately put an end to the XL7.  Good riddance.

1.  Butch Goring’s life partner was his helmet


From an NHL.com story:  “Butch Goring was a 31-year-old hockey player who was wearing the same helmet that his father bought for him in 1961 in the Winnipeg as a 12-year-old. It was a Snaps helmet, which stood out because of how it looked and how many paint jobs it had and how it was covered by tape. But it was a comfortable lid, so why get something else?”


Comments (40)

  1. Craig Ramsay reminds me of Emo Phillips in that pic.

  2. Butch Goring’s bucket was a classic. Definite candidate for the HOF

  3. I was always totally curious about Goring’s lid, how did he switch from white to blue? Two helmets? Some sort of cover? A paint job between games?

  4. BruceM: Goring’s lid apparently underwent numerous paint jobs, but it looks like there may be some kind of blue cover on it. I can’t imagine giving it a paint job between games, although that would be pretty awesome.

  5. Christian Ruuttu is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.

  6. [...] industry-level attention to how form follows function.”The National Hockey League has seen some strange helmets in the past, but they’ve always been an exception.  However, could the fact that players now understand [...]

  7. How did Hasek escape this list except in passing reference???

    I have to disagree on the Jofa VM (“Gretzky Helmet”). That thing is not only an icon, it’s one of the coolest helmets ever created, even if it had roughly the protective factor of a carved pumpkin.

    In general, though, the ugliness of a helmet really had to do more with how it matched someone’s head and overall look. Examples:

    The Jofa VM looked great on Gretzky, Jurri, and Lowe. It looked horrible on McSorley.

    Whatever Jofa model that was that John Ogrodnick wore looked great on him, but would have looked horrible on most players.

    The Northland/Lange dome helmet looked great on Foligno and Macdonald (and Johnny Upton), passible on Denis Potvin, and horrible on Stan Mikita.

    Lemieux, along with Savard, did indeed have horrible helmet choices. He started his career in a (yellow!) Cooper SK2000. This helmet looked good on Ken Linseman and Randy Burridge. Its Winnwell clone that Messier wore fit his look as well. But, it looked absolutely horrible on Lemieux. He definitely needed a CCM.

  8. I always thought Messier’s Helmet was the ugliest helmet, in all of hockey history, as i was scrolling i didn’t see his helmet and thought maybe it’s at #1? but….

    Messier had the ugliest helmet of all time…

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  32. The Arturs Irbe, and Christian Ruutu helmets aren’t really just Klima-like. The three helmets are the very same Jofa-model.

    :)

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  38. I agree most of the Euro lids were pretty lame…I played my minor hockey in the 60′s to early 70′s. I had one of those ugly Craig Ramsey Cooper blobs…it had little air bags that you could blow up with a tube that tucked away in the top of the helmet….used it for one season of tiny-mite BB then switched to the Northland Bubble and kept it for the rest of my minor hockey all the way to Midget. Cooper was kind of like the AMC of hockey helmets…AMC had Gremlins and Pacers…Cooper had their ugly bubble and the even uglier SK100. CCM was the classic helmet that you could never go wrong with. I kind of liked Makita’s helmet just seemed to suit him. As far as I’m concerned all of the Jofas were hideous. Remember those mouthguards we had to wear?…they sucked. You’re so right though about Savard…such a great player to watch…such a tragic choice of helmets. Gorings was just simply untouchable…He was like Oddball from Kelly’s Heros. You just didn’t question it.

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