As a kid growing up in rural Ontario, I was hockey-obsessed. And as long as I can remember, I hated JOFA hockey helmets. I thought they looked so stupid, like the silhouettes were better suited for astronauts than hockey players. Click through to the link and you’ll immediately see what I mean.
Wayne Gretzky’s was the least offensive to me. Maybe it was his helmet’s lower profile; the way his hair flipped out from underneath it; how the uncommon helmet combined with his tucked jersey gave him a look; or because he was just so talented and iconic that he could get away with wearing anything.
I’ve gotten back into hockey over the past few years. My friend Ivan started it when we worked together. The World Junior tournament was on and we’d take the piss out of each other, perpetuating hockey’s longstanding Canada-Russia rivalry.
Then I bought a PlayStation during the pandemic and had to pick up NHL 20 for old time’s sake. I’ve been hooked. Whenever I make a create-a-player, I want them to look a little different to the actual professional players in the game. Usually that means styling them with funny hair or coloured skate laces, but I’ve also dressed each of my players in JOFA helmets. (JOFA was bought and phased out by Reebok but remains a retro equipment option in the game, like wooden Sherwood sticks.)
I never would have done this in NHL 2000, the last hockey game I owned before NHL 20. And that has fascinated me enough that I started reading about JOFA online. That’s when I found this niche little Blogspot site.
This blog discusses the JOFA helmet, the different models, who men who wore them, their significance, where to buy and sell them, how to fix and modify them, and why they are icons of hockey excellence.
The level of detail is amazing. I read every post not because I care about these ugly helmets, but because I was in awe of the author’s apparent passion for them. As my colleague Emily recently wrote, “I always end up going down a rabbit hole. And then, suddenly, I know everything there is to know about this one really obscure thing.”