NY Islanders: Pat LaFontaine ushers in a new wave of safer hockey helmets

Jefferson Awards Foundation 2017 DC National Ceremony
Jefferson Awards Foundation 2017 DC National Ceremony / Larry French/GettyImages

We’ve come a long way in terms of NHL safety over the years, as preventing head and brain injuries is at the top of the league's agenda. As CTE has become a topic of conversation in professional, junior, and collegiate athletics, protecting the brain has been more critical than ever. 

Careers of some of the best athletes the NHL has had to offer have been cut short or severely impacted due to concussions, including Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby, and NY Islanders great Pat LaFontaine. Suffering numerous devastating blows to the head, most notably a cheap shot from Dale Hunter in the 1990 playoffs, LaFontaine wanted to combat these injuries to make the game safer for all participants.

LaFontaine, along with Dr. James Kelly, created Valor, a hockey helmet company designed to be the safest piece of head equipment the Industry has to offer. 

Pat LaFontaine
New York Islanders vs Buffalo Sabres / Harry Scull Jr./GettyImages

The ‘Axiom’ helmet, now available for $349.00, is the first to receive a 5-star rating by the Virginia Tech helmet rating since 2017. 

We’re a long way from the helmets of the past, as extra protection used to be in the form of LaFontaine’s early 90’s NFL punter-style face bar, and according to Valor’s website, the Axion is the helmet reimagined.

“A game-changing helmet providing advanced protection and performance for everyone that plays the game. Developed, designed, and tested through years of expert collaboration between a Hall of Fame hockey player, a world-renowned neurologist, and a leading sports helmet designer Valor's Axiom helmet reaches outside the traditional confines of the sport by fusing innovative engineering with new materials and technologies breaking through the barriers of 'traditional' safe.”

Injuries are a part of the game and always will be, but limiting these injuries to the head and neck area can be deterred through education and technology

“We were always taught you’re not going to get rid of concussions, but now the science can tell you that you can actually minimize some of the damage that’s occurring from some of these hits,” LaFontaine told Alex Mitchell of The New York Post. “Valor is all about the evolution of the helmet and its protection capabilities.”

We still have a long way to go in terms of safety and protecting players through all levels of hockey. A helmet such as the one LaFontaine has helped create can assist in the longevity of all participants in this physical sport.