Skip to content

Player numbers will be added to helmets to help identify NHLers

Sep 29, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT


Baseball players don’t require their athletes to have their number on their helmet when they step into the batter’s box. Basketball doesn’t require players to tattoo their number on their forehead; they don’t need numbers on their headbands either. The NFL doesn’t require their teams to put player numbers on the front of helmets—although some teams rock the numbers as a fashion statement (we’re looking at you Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Football Giants). But the NHL doesn’t care about any of that noise. They’re setting their own trend and requiring NHL teams to add numbers to the front of all players’ helmets before the beginning of the regular season.

Who says the NHL isn’t a trailblazing league?

In a series of tweets, NHL Senior Manager of Communication Schuyler Baehman explained the new, required look for all 30 teams:

“Player numbers will be added to the front forehead (centered) location of all player helmets at the start of this season. Front numbers are not required to be placed on goaltenders headgear. Numbers on the front and back of helmets will measure no less than 1.25” and no more than 2” in height.”

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy has a preview of the new look.

Following the tweets that described the new numbers that will be required for the beginning of the regular season, Baehman explained the rationale for the new numbers:

“The new number placement is designed to aid on-ice officials, broadcasters, et al. by providing an additional point of player identification.”

Maybe numbers on the top of Wayne Simmonds helmet would have helped officials decipher the words that were coming out of his mouth?

Not all change is bad—there have been plenty of changes over the short preseason for the upcoming year. But what is the point of dropping the numbers onto the helmets? Broadcasters have seemed to be doing just fine figuring out which player is which on the ice for the last fifty years and on-ice officials do a pretty good job figuring out which player belongs in the penalty box. Is there another reason for making the change?

In a day and age that every single potential change is discussed and debated, it’s interesting that this move is coming out only eight days before the beginning of the regular season. In the grand scheme of things, the new numbers will affect equipment managers around the league than anyone else.

If nothing else, at least we’ll have yet new change to look forward to this season. Now if they could just change home teams back to wearing white, then we might be onto something.

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Well for starters, when Simmers was yelling at Avery, he didn’t have his helmet on. So your point of identification is moot. That being said, idk how much more of a difference having numbers on front of the helmet will help. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try but will this helmet eliminate bad/missed calls? Nope. I don’t see the point in this potential move.

  2. bigbear42 - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    The only thing I can think of is it will help players find their helmets after brawls

  3. sknut - Sep 29, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Is the reason they waited to announce this so the potential criticism is minimal since most people will be focusing on the start of the season. To me its no big deal either way.

  4. pensfan1 - Sep 29, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    I don’t see where it is an issue and may help just as the NHL describes. How many times have we seen the wrong guy head to the box only to see it changed to the right guy before play restarts? Someone missed it. Football and baseball players don’t need it – half the time they’re standing still. From a fan’s point of view, if the big numbers don’t stand out then adding something to their helmet or hat won’t help. (Don’t know what will help referees and umps for those guys but don’t think adding numbers will do it).
    I’ve been watching live NHL hockey for 45 years and have watched the game evolve. You used to be able to follow the game by watching the puck all over the ice to the net. That was before helmets and armored pads when the emphasis seemed more on puck handling and skill than strength and speed. Those aspects still exist but the play has moved to faster, stronger, and better equipped players. Now if I want to see the puck in the net I need to start looking at the net when it crosses the blue line or I might miss it. Now it’s forget the puck – follow and anticipate the player or you won’t see it. The game is that much faster.
    I don’t agree with everything the rules guys dream up but in this case who cares?

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Sep 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Pretty unnecessary, probably won’t last long

  6. lewdood - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    Makes sense, because for most NHL teams this would be the only front-facing #’s on their entire uniform. Football, basketball and many baseball teams have front-facing #’s for identification, and speaking from experience doing stats& PA for all sports, the front-facing #’s will be a major help to refs and the officials in the scoring booth.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1419)
  2. P. Kane (1287)
  3. S. Matthias (1177)
  4. M. Zuccarello (1101)
  5. D. Carcillo (1089)