What Year Did Helmets Become Mandatory In the NHL?

In 1949, the NHL mandated that all players must wear helmets. This rule was implemented in order to protect players from head injuries.

NHL History

The National Hockey League was founded in 1917, and since then, it has undergone many changes. One of the most significant changes was in 1979, when the league made helmets mandatory for all players. This was a controversial decision at the time, but it has helped to make the sport safer.

Founded in 1917

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and seven in Canada. Founded in 1917, the NHL is the oldest major professional sports league in North America and considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in the world.

helmets were first introduced in the late 1920s, but were not mandatory until 1979. In 2013, head shots were banned.

Original 6 teams

The Original Six is the group of six teams that made up the National Hockey League (NHL) for the 25 seasons between 1942 and 1967. They are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs. These six teams were the only ones in the NHL from 1942 until the league doubled in size in 1967 with the addition of six new expansion franchises. Of these Original Six teams, four (the Bruins, Blackhawks, Wings and Rangers) are still playing in their original cities; only Montreal and Toronto have moved.

The term “Original Six” is used by many hockey fans to refer to this era of NHL hockey and alludes to the fact that there were only six members of the league during those years. It is also sometimes used to refer to those same six teams today.

NHL Rule Changes

In 1979-80 the NHL became the last major league in North America to make helmets mandatory for all players. This came after a lengthy and emotional debate that was sparked by the death of Bill Masterton in 1968. Let’s take a look at how this rule change came about.

Rule changes throughout history

The NHL has seen many rule changes throughout its 100+ years of existence. Some of the most notable changes are listed below.

1917: Goalies are allowed to drop to the ice to make a save
1925: Offsides is changed so that forwards need to be clear of the defensive zone before the puck crosses the blue line
1929: Helmets become mandatory for all players
1966: Expansion doubles the size of the league from 6 to 12 teams
1979: The penalty shot is introduced
1986: High-sticking resulting in injury becomes a double minor penalty
1987: Holding and interference become stick infractions and are penalized with a two-minute minor penalty
2006: A shootout is used to determine a winner if a game is tied after overtime

Why helmets were implemented

The decision to make helmets mandatory was not an easy one, and it took many years of discussion before the NHL finally made the change. There were several factors that played into the final decision, but the most important one was safety.

Players were getting injured more frequently, and the severity of those injuries was increasing. Concussions were becoming more common, and there was a growing concern that players could suffer long-term damage if they did not start using helmets.

Another factor that played into the decision was public pressure. Fans were becoming more vocal about wanting players to be safe, and many felt that helmets would help protect players from serious injuries.

Ultimately, the NHL decided that players would be required to wear helmets starting in the 1979-80 season. This rule change has helped reduce injuries in the NHL, and it has made the game safer for everyone involved.

NHL Today

The National Hockey League has seen many changes over the years, including the introduction of helmets. In the past, players were not required to wear helmets and many did not. Today, all players must wear helmets and visors. This change was made in an effort to improve player safety.

30 teams

As of the 2019–20 season, the National Hockey League (NHL) is composed of 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada. The most recent expansion team is the Vegas Golden Knights, who began play in the 2017–18 NHL season.

Players from all over the world

The NHL today is composed of players from all over the world. In fact, as of the 2019-20 season, there were 31 countries represented in the league. But it wasn’t always that way.

The NHL was founded in 1917 with just six teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Patricks (who would later become the Maple Leafs). At that time, the league was exclusively Canadian-based and players were only allowed to come from Canada.

It wasn’t until 1924 that the league began to allow American-born players. Frank Fredrickson, who was born in Winnipeg but raised in California, became the first U.S.-born player to skate in the NHL when he suited up for the Montreal Canadiens. That same year, another American-born player, Johnny Gottselig, joining Fredrickson on the Canadiens.


As of the 2013-14 NHL season, all players must wear helmets during play. This rule was put into effect following the death of Sidney Crosby’s teammate, Craig MacTavish, who suffered a fractured skull when he was hit in the head with a puck during a game.

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