When Did Hockey Helmets Become Mandatory? [Answered!]

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In some sports, protective equipment such as helmets and shoulder pads are considered essential for player safety. However, others question whether or not they’re really necessary.

While the use of protective equipment varies from sport to sport, some mandatory protective equipment, such as hockey helmets, have been around for a long time. In fact, the earliest hockey helmets were manufactured back in the 1800s.

Why Are Hockey Helmets Mandatory?

Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world, played in over 110 countries and territories around the globe. The most popular hockey league is called the NHL (National Hockey League), and it was originally founded in 1883 as the New York Hockey League. Since then, the league has slowly expanded, and in 1922, it became the NHL (National Hockey League).

Hockey is considered to be one of the most dangerous sports to play, due to the speed and the violence that can occur on the ice. Most hockey injuries occur from car accidents or falls, resulting in broken bones and head wounds. Because of this, many countries, including the U.S., have mandated that hockey players wear helmets to protect their head from injury. In fact, several studies have shown that mandatory helmet use can significantly reduce head injuries and make hockey more safe for players and spectators alike.

When Did USA Hockey Begin Mandating Hockey Helmets?

Like a few other countries, the USA (United States of America) also has a law that requires hockey players to wear helmets. The USA Hockey Regulations for 2013–2014 state that all players must wear helmets, and they must be approved by the USA Sports Authority. In some cases, older players may still wear ball caps instead of helmets, but they are required to keep them on whenever they play.

The first ever USA Hockey Regulation was enacted in 1928, and it only required that hockey players wear protective equipment (helmets could be worn by skaters, but not by goalies). It wasn’t until 1996 that the regulations were updated to include helmets for both players and goalies. Even then, only a few other countries had implemented mandatory helmet use at that time. Since then, Canada and Sweden have mandated that all hockey players wear helmets, as have several other countries that border the USA.

When Did the Others Start Mandating Helmet Use?

The others refer to the NHL (National Hockey League), Major League Hockey (an American league that mostly plays in big cities), and the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League), a league that is split between Russia and Europe. Like the NHL, the KHL requires all players to wear helmets.

In some countries, such as Germany, helmets are optional and it’s up to the players. However, many others, such as China, are considered traditional sports and helmets are considered a must. It should be noted that even some countries that don’t require helmets to play hockey still have them as a protective gear. For example, Germany’s Bundesliga football (soccer) league requires all players to wear helmets, but they are not mandatory for handball (ball sports played with your hands) or ice hockey (bandy or ice soccer).

How Well Do Hockey Helmets Protect the Head?

According to the National Hockey League (NHL), in 2017-18, 3.9% of hockey players were injured on the ice (compared to 1.6% of NFL players). As mentioned before, the most common cause of hockey injuries is usually a car accident or fall. However, others have died from hockey injuries, as well. In 2017, four players died from hockey-related injuries, making it the fourth-leading cause of death for individuals aged 15–29. The KHL reports that in 2015, there were 16 deaths related to hockey (compared to 11 in 2014, and 9 in 2013). Anecdotally, many hockey players feel that helmets do a decent job of protecting their noggins from harm, especially since they can be a bit noisy. Still, most players would rather not wear helmets because they feel that they take away from their fashion pleasures (due to the noise that they make).

Does Style Matter When Choosing a Helmet?

Even if you don’t play hockey, you might still wonder if there is a style goggle that you should avoid if you want to keep your manicure intact. The answer, in a nutshell, is no. Although there are styles that make head injury more likely (such as the flat style, which can attract blows to the face), it’s not wise to assume that just because a certain style of helmets makes it more dangerous. It’s more likely that it’s the player’s fault for getting injured, since there are styles that make head injury less likely (such as the rounded shape, which can keep the head protected when the player falls backward).

Which Type of Head Protection Is The Most Effective?

The NHL reports that of the 3.9% of hockey players who were injured on the ice in 2017-18, the following were the most common types of injuries:

  • Slap to the Head (1.6%),
  • Open Faced Hit to the Head (1.4%),
  • Rough Punch to the Head (0.9%),
  • Checked Hit to the Head (0.7%),
  • Fist to the Face (0.6%),
  • Struck by a Foul Play (0.5%),
  • Tripped and Struck by an Object (0.5%),
  • Hit by a Puck, Foul Play or object (0.5%).

In addition, the NHL reports that in 2017-18, there were also a few cases of hockey players in trouble after their head injury (due to a fatal concussion):

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