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Last Helmetless Player for Every NHL Team


MTH
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Kicking around YouTube watching NHL old fights. Wondering - who were the last players to not wear a helmet in a game? 

Here's what I got - I'll update the list as people post too:

Atlantic:

  • Bruins - Mike Milbury 86-87 Willi Plett 87-88
  • Sabres - Clark Gillies 87-88
  • Red Wings - Brad Marsh 91-92
  • Panthers - None.
  • Canadiens - Guy Lafleur 84-85 (There were several guys on the team that started wearing helmets Robinson, Gainey)
  • Senators - Brad Marsh 92-93
  • Lightning - None
  • Maple Leafs - Brad Marsh 90-91

Metro:

  • Hurricanes - None (Whalers - Wally Weir 84-85?)
  • Blue Jackets - None
  • Devils - Phil Russell 85-86
  • Islanders - Bob Nystrom 85-86 (Clark Gillies 85-86)
  • Rangers - Craig MacTavish 93-94
  • Flyers - Craig MacTavish 95-96
  • Penguins - Wally Weir 84-85
  • Capitals - Rod Langway 92-93

Central:

  • Coyotes - None (Jets 1 - Randy Carlyle 92-93 )
  • Blackhawks - Doug Wilson 90-91 (Also Al Secord 90-91)
  • Avalanche - None (Nords - Guy Lafleur 90-91)
  • Stars - Harold Snepsts 84-85 ? Willi Plett 86-87
  • Wild - None
  • Predators - None
  • Blues - Craig MacTavish 96-97
  • Jets 2 - None (Atlanta - None)

Pacific:

  • Ducks - None
  • Flames - Greg Smyth 92-93 (when helmet rule was repealed. Played 10 games sans helmet.)
  • Oilers - Craig MacTavish 93-94
  • Kings - Ron Dugay (88-89)
  • Sharks - Doug Wilson 92-93
  • Kraken - None
  • Canucks - Harold Snepsts 89-90
  • Knights - None
Edited by MTH
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I dont think you missed anyone, MTH. Pretty much of a miracle none of them got seriously injured. Wilson did have a skull fracture when he was with Chicago but I dont remember how that happened. Funny about Carlyle; he was a scary dude when seen in person during a game, total monster.

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2 hours ago, CJ Boiss said:

Why the fuck would any goalie have gone helmetless when MacInnis was in the league?

I agree. There's crazy (normal by goalie standards) and there's totally off your rocker a la Gilles Gratton. You would have to be that level of kookoo to face MacInnis without a helmet. If I'm not mistaken, his shot was hard enough that it broke a goalie's cup, in warmups. Imagine that shot to your head. 

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5 minutes ago, ilyazhito said:

I agree. There's crazy (normal by goalie standards) and there's totally off your rocker a la Gilles Gratton. You would have to be that level of kookoo to face MacInnis without a helmet. If I'm not mistaken, his shot was hard enough that it broke a goalie's cup, in warmups. Imagine that shot to your head. 

He broke a goalie's mask during a game (and scored on the play, because the puck bounced into the net).

Edited by CJ Boiss
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8 hours ago, CJ Boiss said:

Why the fuck would any goalie have gone helmetless when MacInnis was in the league?

These are players, not goalies. Andy Brown was the last goalie not to wear a mask, he retired in 1977 (only missed facing MacInnis by a few years!).

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I was around in the bare faced goalie days. I tried using a catcher’s mask but it was too heavy, especially for outdoor hockey (difficult to keep your toque from sliding over your eyes). Many of us experimented with home made face protection but usually they were I’ll fitting and didn’t offer much protection. Remember, none of our goalie heroes wore masks.

Over the years I acquired some of the attempts at goalie head protection, some offering better results than others. It became a macho man attitude at the highest levels. Who wants to be the first? It took a nasty facial injury to Jacques Plante which forced the issue.

 

 

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Edited by Wonder35
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On 4/22/2022 at 1:40 PM, ilyazhito said:

What was the purpose of wearing no helmet? It's scary to think about getting hit with a puck in the head. 

Just a different time and a different ethic. If a player wore a helmet, his testicular fortitude was considered questionable. 

@Wonder35, bad_ ss, brother.

 

Edited by Fullright
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3 hours ago, Fullright said:

Just a different time and a different ethic. If a player wore a helmet, his testicular fortitude was considered questionable. 

@Wonder35, bad_ ss, brother.

 

Wow, I cannot imagine doing that today.

No wonder why Glenn Hall would throw up before every game and paint the same barn every summer instead of going to training camp. He was an early butterfly goalie, but he did not want to take too many pucks to the head. 

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On 4/22/2022 at 1:40 PM, ilyazhito said:

What was the purpose of wearing no helmet? It's scary to think about getting hit with a puck in the head. 

Early helmets were hot, had poor vision, not all that protective and there was an attitude that you were less than a man by wearing one. Early hockey specific models were nothing more than a leather hair net, and a close cousin to American Football helmets. But helmet use started increasing as the designs became substantially better. You could see from 60s footage that the teams also would supply only one as you would see players wearing either a white or team-coloured version for both uniforms, mid 70s Colorado Rockies withstanding.
 
Stan Mikita was truly one of the first to proactively wear a helmet and not be chirped mercilessly for wearing one. The CCM HT series ended up being slightly more compact and ended up being an all-time favourite in the league. Of course it was actually a figure skater’s helmet, yet was more protective than the Cooper pre-SK series. 
 
Of course there were the truly protective ones and the ornamental ones. Had Gretzky been in the NHL rather than the WHA when he first turned pro, he probably would not have had to wear a helmet and the famous Jofa he wore would have likely been not nearly as famous. The Jofa he wore was a kayaking helmet, but started being used in Europe as helmets were de rigeur in the seventies and late 60s, and it was light weight and had superior vision. Then there were the guys that would buy the smallest helmets they could find, rip out the padding and line it with something that would have been superficial protection at best. It wasn’t until about ten to fifteen years ago that unsafe helmets were grandfathered in with the older players but they could not be tampered with. This was the birth of the “pro padded” helmets from the factory, using smaller-sized EPS-lined helmets, subbing the EPS liner with rubatex or similar, but from the factory. Other ones would be 1/2” padded small sized helmets.

In the end, it took about sixty years to get where we are currently with head protection, and probably another 30 to advance it to where the helmets are low profile, yet sufficiently protective enough that they are safe and aesthetically attractive. 

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On 4/25/2022 at 10:21 AM, Scythe said:

I always liked the ones Mike Gartner ans others wore. Northland? and Cooper

cut-1.jpg

The Northlands helmet was the Stan Makita helmet developed with Lange (ski helmets).

Northland Hockey Sticks

Odd to think that wearing helmets was a debate. Northlands was making the point that a single piece shell was better (it is). Also the Northlands helmet was a suspension helmet as shown on the right.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 4/23/2022 at 6:45 AM, motowngoalie said:

These are players, not goalies. Andy Brown was the last goalie not to wear a mask, he retired in 1977 (only missed facing MacInnis by a few years!).

Fun fact - the last NHL goalie that was allowed to play without a mask (he didn't) was Gen Hanlon.

1990 Pro Set Hockey Glen Hanlon Red Wings #72

One of the greatest gear setups of all time. Classic beauty.

Edited by MTH
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On 4/22/2022 at 2:40 PM, ilyazhito said:

What was the purpose of wearing no helmet? It's scary to think about getting hit with a puck in the head. 

Won't be long that we'll say some guy in the NHL is the 'last guy without a visor'.

And soon after that - 'here are the last players not wearing full face protection'.

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1 hour ago, MTH said:

The Northlands helmet was the Stan Makita helmet developed with Lange (ski helmets).

Northland Hockey Sticks

Odd to think that wearing helmets was a debate. Northlands was making the point that a single piece shell was better (it is). Also the Northlands helmet was a suspension helmet as shown on the right.

 

Mine is the soft foam. There were two versions. I could swear I saw what was a spot for a ball needle in the other version, and that ad confirms it.

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2 hours ago, MTH said:

Fun fact - the last NHL goalie that was allowed to play without a mask (he didn't) was Gen Hanlon.

1990 Pro Set Hockey Glen Hanlon Red Wings #72

One of the greatest gear setups of all time. Classic beauty.

Hey you found a goalie wearing his gloves on the right hands!!!

I almost said Butch Goring but I think he was actually one of the first players to wear a helmet. I could be totally wrong but he had a wacky helmet

Edited by A.YOUNGoalie13
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1 hour ago, A.YOUNGoalie13 said:

Hey you found a goalie wearing his gloves on the right hands!!!

I almost said Butch Goring but I think he was actually one of the first players to wear a helmet. I could be totally wrong but he had a wacky helmet

The ol’ SPAPS by Torspo. He had that thing from Juniors up.

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11 hours ago, MTH said:

Fun fact - the last NHL goalie that was allowed to play without a mask (he didn't) was Gen Hanlon.

1990 Pro Set Hockey Glen Hanlon Red Wings #72

One of the greatest gear setups of all time. Classic beauty.

It looks nice. I also think that the throat protector which Glen wears is cool. 

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