HOCKEY HELMET SAFETY AND CERTIFICATION
DO HOCKEY HELMETS EXPIRE?
Yes, certified-safe hockey helmets have an expiration date, as do hockey visors and cages. This equipment is certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC, pronounced "heck"), based on performance standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The HECC certification is good for 6 ½ years—that's how long accredited testing has shown hockey helmets provide the expected protection for players.
WHY IS HOCKEY HELMET CERTIFICATION NECESSARY?
Tests have shown that over time and through regular use and repeated impacts, helmets lose protective qualities. That's why when the HECC certification expires, it’s time to consider a new hockey helmet. Also consider replacing the helmet and face and eye protector if you see any visible cracks in the plastic outer shell (that means the shell won't dissipate the force of an impact the way it's designed to), or if the gear no longer fits the player properly, meaning it cannot protect properly.
WHO THE HECC?
HECC describes itself as "an independent volunteer organization for the purpose of selecting standards including test methods and other requirements for certifying playing equipment used in the sport of ice hockey." The HECC certification sticker is usually found on the back of the helmet or other protective equipment, and the product literature will tell you more about the HECC certification.
Rest assured, the HECC label shows that the helmet and eye and face protectors you purchase are certified for use—for 6 ½ years.
WHEN IS HOCKEY HELMET CERTIFICATION REQUIRED?
According to information from HECC, certified protective equipment is required in any USA Hockey sanctioned league or event for players up to age 21 and for any player in high school playing under the Federation of High School rules.
Players in the NCAA must have a HECC-certified facemask with a hockey helmet or HECC-certified goalie helmet and facemask. A full-face shield or cage is required for high school, college, and all players under 18. Always check hockey league rules for safety equipment requirements.
SIZING AND FITTING HOCKEY HELMETS
When you buy a new hockey helmet, you want to ensure the helmet and the eye and face protectors fit properly. The helmet shouldn't be loose and tip back and forth or side to side on the head; instead, it should fit securely, particularly when the chin strap is fastened. It should be snug at the brow line, crown, and temples. If the helmet feels too tight and pinches or squeezes, adjust it according to product instructions. Or maybe it's time for a new one—growing players outgrow helmets, of course.
Also, make sure the eye or face protector stays securely in place on the helmet. Follow the product instructions when mounting the eye or face protector and adjust the helmet fit as needed.
Important note: Purchasing used helmets and eye and face protectors is NOT recommended, even if the expiration date hasn't passed, as you won't know how many impacts the gear sustained or how severe they were. Also, certifications are void on any resale.
WHAT ARE HOCKEY HELMETS MADE OF?
Helmets are made of high-impact resistant plastic called vinyl nitrate (VN) that disperses force from the point of contact. The liner is made of padding that's usually adjustable for the best fit; this is either vinyl nitrile foam or expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam, which further dampens or dissipates the force of impacts. Hockey helmets often have removable liners of soft foam or gel pads for a comfortable yet secure fit.
PLAY SAFE, BE PROTECTED
Today, a hockey helmet is standard and accepted equipment to guard against flying sticks and hockey pucks, falls on the ice, or impacts with other players or the boards. No helmet can prevent all concussions, but a properly fitted helmet will protect the wearer and help mitigate the outcome of an impact.
Manufacturers are continually improving helmet and eye and face protectors, so stay tuned to this site for gear updates. Pure Hockey always offers the most current HECC-certified hockey safety equipment, and we want to see you and your loved ones on skates for many years to come.
SOME HOCKEY HELMET HISTORY
Hockey as a professional sport dates back to around the early 1900s, but—believe it or not— helmets weren’t required equipment until almost 1980. The first hockey helmet is credited to Barney Stanley in 1927, whose prototype was rejected by the NHL. Serious injuries among players prompted some league players to start wearing helmets in 1933, though intermittently.
That intermittent use continued until 1979, when the NHL created a rule requiring helmets for players joining the league. "The introduction of the helmet rule will be an additional safety factor," said then-NHL President John Ziegler. Players already under contract with an NHL team who preferred not to wear a helmet at that time could sign a liability waiver. Nowadays, all NHL players wear helmets and eye and face protection, and well-known players such as Mark Messier and others have helped design modern helmets.