Babey advocates for new hockey helmet design

Whether you’re a diehard hockey fan or only catch a game once in a while, you know the game can be rough.
SAIT Trojan men’s hockey coach Ken Babey has proposed an idea that could help protect players in these moments of rough play.
He’s asked SAIT researchers to develop a new and improved hockey helmet to help prevent head injuries such as severe concussions.
Over the last ten years, Babey says not only have players became faster and stronger but the game itself has changed in the terms of the rules which all factor into a different game.
Babey says advancements in equipment and training physiology tie into it. Players are also now training year round and incorporate healthier diets and nutrition into their daily lives to up their game.
“All that has compounded into a perfect storm idea,” said Babey, who’s led the Trojan men to four consecutive championship titles.  “Now guys are getting head injuries because of those things.”
The helmet most players currently use has adequate padding at the back of the head to absorb high impact as well as the front. But Babey says the sides leave the players unprotected.
Babey proposed the idea in hopes of coming up with an answer to the alarming number of brain injuries. To date, close to 80 NHL players have suffered from one type of serious head injury or another.
Other than the changes in the game, Babey said players also exhibit a lack of respect for each other and this has resulted in more dirty hits on the ice.
SAIT Trojan Ryan Nieszner said he supports the quest for a better and safer helmet.
“It’s a great idea, the amount of head injuries in the game lately are getting crazy,” he said.
“Some of the things these players have to deal with in everyday life now because of past head injuries is sad, so something needs to be done.”
Babey proposed the idea to SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department. Director Alex Zahavich says a project like this can take up to two years to initiate.
“You have to study the background behind it,” said Zahavich. “You have to indentify the need, the organizations that may already be doing it, and what would make (this idea) or anybody else’s idea different or unique.”
For now, the idea is still at the water-cooler talk stage, but Babey hopes the research team can come up with a model for players to try out.
“I don’t think this is the answer to hits to the head,” said Babey. “But if there are hits to the head, maybe we should protect the head more.
“Maybe we can’t because it will affect the flow of the game but it’s worth looking at.”

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