JOFA Helmets | Halos of Hockey

Gretzky, Lemieux, Jagr, Selanne, Savard, Sundin, Forsberg, Fleury, Kurri, Housley, Palffy, Salming and Stastny are some of the NHL greats who have worn the JOFA emblem proudly upon their foreheads during some of the highest scoring and most important seasons and careers in NHL history. 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.

May 6, 2011

The JOFA 666 Pro Custom

Behold, the JOFA 666; a custom modified JOFA 390 from my collection. The reason I have named this the JOFA 666 is because this mod is an evolution of the JOFA 366, and because this is a "Beast" of a helmet!

What makes the JOFA 666 special, aside from the tinted Oakley pro modified visor install and its mint condition, is the evolved ear loops. This custom install of pro ear loops, common on most helmets, makes the JOFA 666 the most comfortable JOFA helmet since the JOFA 235.

Someday, I may sell this helmet. It would be incredible if Selanne or Jagr were to actually buy it from me! Enjoy the photos, these are the only pictures ever taken of this helmet.

Modifying The JOFA 390

With some patience, skill, and craftsmanship, it is possible to modify a JOFA 390 helmet (above, left) to replicate the pro ear loops like that of the JOFA 366 (above, right); the result is a much more comfortable, pro style, JOFA helmet. The modification also voids the JOFA 390's HECC and CSA certification, especially when done incorrectly; so unless you are a professional, or playing men's league, do not waste your time and money removing the ear protection from your JOFA 390 helmet.

The first step in modifying your JOFA 390 is gathering the tools and parts for the job. These tools include: medium Phillips and flathead screw drivers, a handheld power drill, a 1/8" drill bit, a 7/32" drill bit, small nose pliers, strong kitchen or shop scissors, an X-ACTO knife, a box knife, extra blades for both knives, painters tape (masking tape will also work), a pencil, a thin or medium Sharpie marker, a metal straight edge ruler (smaller the better), medium and fine grit sand paper, a sand paper block, and a cigarette lighter. In addition, a Dremel (small, hand-held rotary power tool) with a rotary sanding bit and refills can also be helpful; but is not necessary. Most of these tools can be found at a local hardware store.

You also will need some helmet parts, including: a pair of ear loops (I recommend Bauer), two short helmet screws, two cage snap/dome screws, 4 wide/short backings (or medium/short backings with washers), and a chin strap (two parts with plastic snap). These parts can be found online at various hockey equipment retailers; they may also be available at your local hockey shop, saving you the price of shipping and handling, while also supporting your local shop.

Next, disassemble your JOFA 390; removing the front piece, making sure to collect all the screws and backings and set them aside. It is also advised to first remove the cage, if applicable. 

Once the back piece is isolated, drill out the rivets on either side of the ear protection using a 1/8" bit, making sure not to damage the helmet; the pliers may be used to break the rivets and pull them out. Now, the foam padding should be loose, set that aside until later; cleaning the helmet padding while removed is recommended. 

Use the template I have provided to scribe out the ear protection using an X-ACTO or box knife with a sharp blade; be patient, it is easy to mess this step up. The best way to mark the cut lines (indicated above in red), as well as protect the helmet from scratches and cuts, is to apply the painter's tape over the ear protection, and draw the cut lines with a pencil - later refining them with a Sharpie marker, on top of the tape. I like to use my shop scissors to cut the bottom half off first; be sure to work your way to the edge, as you can not replace removed material. After you are close to your template lines, sand the inner edge making sure not to scuff the helmet; straight lines can be achieved by using a sanding block. Repeat this process on the other side, trying to mirror the first side as close as possible.

Once satisfied, remove the tape, and trim the padding to match the new profile using scissors and a box knife; use sand paper to smooth. 

To prepare the ear loops, match the center of the flat rubber to the center of the hole, one side at a time; adjust them so the flair transition on the ear loops just touches the bottom of the helmet, then mark the ear loop with a Sharpie. Once marked, find center, and drill through the ear loop using the 7/32" bit; then cut off extra material, leaving a uniform material thickness on all sides.  

Finally, use the specified hardware to re-assemble the back piece, sandwiching the ear loops between the foam and the plastic. Make sure you add the chinstrap to the ear loops before assembly. Use the cage snap/dome screws on the back holes and the regular screws at the front; large backings should hold the foam in place. Now, put your helmet back together, replacing the front piece using the hardware that you set aside. 

The result should look nearly identical to Selanne's JOFA 366 helmet with soft ear loops. Replication of the standard JOFA 366 is next to impossible due to the plastic ear loops, and the need for snap rivets through them. Hope this helps you JOFA fans out there who have wanted a Selanne-style JOFA 366. Just remember, take your time, use photo references if unsure, and be safe using the knives (make sure to push away from yourself).

This is my first modified JOFA 390. I used photo references for this mod; I wish I had better photos at the time, because I over-cut it slightly at the top of the ear; otherwise it is just about spot on. I also mounted an Oakley straight visor, just like Selanne's, and added official NHL helmet decals to complete the look. Selanne has his side logos rubbed off, and his Ducks decal is placed higher on the helmet, over the divide; I didn't want to mess with that, so I just placed the Ducks decals over the ears. Due to my large cranium, and because I want my helmet to fit me, I mounted the visor further forward than Selanne's to allow air flow to prevent fogging. I will show how to correctly mount visors on the JOFA 390 on another post.

The JOFA 390

The JOFA 390 is the most widely known and available JOFA helmet ever made. It was first manufactured in the early 1990's, as a redesign of the JOFA 280; sculpting a new, rounder, front piece, with aerodynamic intakes. I have mentioned this helmet before; the JOFA 390 has ear protection, molded into the back piece of the helmet, differentiating it from the JOFA 366 pro model. This design makes it quicker and easier to manufacture; research suggests that JOFA produced this helmet more than any other model. The helmet was most commonly sold with a JOFA 381 cage like the photo above.

NHL Pros, such as Jaromir Jagr made this helmet extremely popular during the 1990's.  Many of you may have worn a JOFA helmet when you were little during this time; chances are that helmet was a JOFA 395 (size 6-1/2 - 7-1/4), which is the junior version of the JOFA 390, sold exclusively with ear protection and a JOFA 386 junior cage.

Mats Sundin, the highest scoring Swedish player in the history of the NHL, is another pro who wore the JOFA 390 helmet during his professional career. He wore the JOFA 390 while he played for the Quebec Nordiques from 1990-94, as well as his early years playing for the Swedish National Team.

The JOFA 390 was also worn by Peter Forsberg during the early 1990's, during his play for Team Sweden as illustrated. I believe he wore a JOFA 390 on and off throughout his early career, switching it out with a JOFA 366, which is most definitely the more comfortable and exclusive of the two helmets.

Here is Forsberg wearing a JOFA 390 helmet with what is likely a JOFA 998 visor/cage combo (right); this must have been extremely early in his career to have worn a full face mask.

Saku Koivu is another NHL star who wore a JOFA 390, however, he did not wear one in the NHL; only in his early Finnish SM-Liiga and Olympic and World Championship play with Team Finland in the early 1990's.

In recent years, JOFA has changed their logo, somewhat modernizing it (left), and continued producting the JOFA 390 model well into the 2000's; until they were bought by RBK/Reebok Hockey in 2004. Reebok continues to manufacture this model (right), replacing the JOFA graphics and removing the front bumper displaying "390"; appropriate, since they now call this model the RBK 3K. Unfortunately, the RBK 3K is currently only being sold over seas; probably as not to conflict with Reebok's marketing of their new line of helmets, worn by many pros today, notably Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, and The Sedin Brothers.

May 5, 2011

The JOFA 290 / 298

After discussing Denis Savard's JOFA 266 helmet, I found it appropriate to follow up with an overview of the JOFA 290. This helmet emerged after the JOFA 280, and was worn nearly exclusively by European players. You may tell from the photos, the JOFA 290 was a popular choice amongst international competition, especially Scandinavian teams, during the early 1990's. 

Notice above that Selanne's helmet has a different front piece than that of his famous JOFA 366 (JOFA 390 without ear protection), where the JOFA 290 has an "Armadillo" pattern on his forehead rather than the styled intakes of the later produced JOFA 366/390.

Here we have the JOFA 290 being worn by Niklas Lidstrom playing for Team Sweden, and Mats Sundin playing for Djurg√•rdens IF(black and white), early in their careers around 1990-92.

The visor that Selanne, Lidstrom, and Sundin are using is the JOFA 995 visor.  As I made note of this before, the JOFA 995 is the only visor that fits the JOFA 290-390 helmets without modification including the addition of custom mounting points.

The blue JOFA 290 helmet above is outfitted with a JOFA 267 cage, which was specifically designed for goaltenders. This image also reveals the sizing specifications, 290SR 6-3/4 - 7-3/8, which is identical to that of the JOFA 390 helmet.

Tommy Soderstrom, one of the finest goaltenders to come out of Sweden, wore this JOFA 298/267 combo during most of his career. Notice the photo of him playing for the Flyers looks as though he has stretched the cage out at the sides. I have not yet found a skater that has worn the JOFA 298 in the NHL; it seems that, given the choice, the pros preferred the JOFA 366 and 390 helmets.

Above is a Tommy Soderstrom's JOFA 298 with a JOFA 275 cage that he wore while playing with the Philadelphia Flyers. I will assume this particular helmet was worn early in his career considering his use of the JOFA 267 cage later on.

Today, the JOFA 290 is still being sold, well kinda. Reebok manufactures a junior helmet sharing styling traits with the JOFA 290, sold in Europe as the Reebok 1K.  Notice that the foam padding looks like styrene with mesh padding adhered to it, not the same as JOFA's traditional dual density, soft foam padding found in nearly all their helmets. 

May 3, 2011

Denis Savard's JOFA Helmets

Denis Savard, a highly recognized hockey hall of famer, for many of his earlier years with the Montreal Canadiens wore what is a true JOFA helmet rarity. He seems to have worn a JOFA 290 helmet without ear protection, with the back piece of the helmet identical to that of the later produced JOFA 366; which for ease of identification, I will dub Savard's helmet the JOFA 266.

Denis Savard, a highly respected hockey hall of famer, for many of his earlier years wore what is a true JOFA helmet rarity. He seems to have worn a JOFA 290 helmet without ear protection, with the back piece of the helmet identical to that of the later produced JOFA 366; which for ease of identification, I will dub Savard's helmet the JOFA 266.

Above shows Mats Naslund playing for Team Sweden during the 1980's. He is wearing a JOFA 290 helmet, notice that there is ear protection, even though it has the same "armadillo" front piece of the helmet as Savard's.

Later in his career, Savard used the JOFA 366 that I have previously discussed; he likely began using the JOFA 366 once it was made available. Notice the lack of a "366" bumper, and instead a faux leather tab that bolts through the cage mounting holes on the forehead; signifying it was an early version of the JOFA 366. 

On Savard's retrun to the Chicago Blackhawks, he continued using the JOFA 366.  As the more recent photos show (below), his new JOFA 366 helmets have the "366" bumper on his forehead instead of the faux leather tab.

Savard was one of the first North American players to professionally wear a JOFA helmet, proving you don't need to be Scandinavian to wear one!

The JOFA 280

I have not yet discussed the use of JOFA helmets by goaltenders, so I figured Arturs Irbe would be an appropriate candidate to begin with, also because of his career long use of the JOFA 280 helmet. He has a following too.  There are many forums and blogs written by goaltenders who are huge fans of Irbe and his helmet, as well as goaltenders who prefer using JOFA helmets for protection rather than the modern goalie mask.

This helmet was produced after the JOFA 235, but before the JOFA 290 (which I will later discuss). It was an injection molded, one piece helmet like the JOFA 235, but shares a similarity to JOFA models later produced.

The only star player I know of who wore a JOFA 280 is Christian Ruuttu, during his seasons with the Buffalo Sabres during the late 1980's and early 1990's. As you may guess by looking at this photo, the JOFA 280 helmet was not exactly a hit with players as much as other JOFA helmets, probably due to the helmet's lack of sculptural refinement and odd proportions. However its significance is that it was an important step in the development and design of the JOFA 290 helmet, and later the JOFA 390 helmet; most notably the addition of ear protection, integrated as a single injection molded part.

Here is a giant JOFA 280 helmet that is, or was, on the rooftop of the Malung, Sweden JOFA factory.  Apparently this helmet is of much significance to JOFA, as I have not seen any other JOFA models being produced at this enormous scale.

These JOFA ads show a young Wayne Gretzky modeling the JOFA 280 helmet. This helmet must have marked an important point in JOFA's growth as a business, as mainstream advertising of their products was not common.