Heads up - LA Kings Insider

Given all the attention paid to hits to the head in the past year, and the subsequent rule changes put in place for this season, it’s not surprising that equipment makers are bringing out new products they believe will protect hockey players’ heads. Cascade, traditionally a maker of lacrosse helmets, has partnered with Mark Messier on the M11 helmet, which is touted as being solid protection against concussions and head injuries. To read more about the technology behind the helmets, click here.

On the Kings, Willie Mitchell and Kevin Westgarth are the only two players who have tried the helmets during training camp, and for somewhat obvious reasons. Mitchell has suffered three concussions in his NHL career and Westgarth is the designated “enforcer.” I talked to both players today about the helmets, and reviews were somewhat mixed…

WESTGARTH: “I think it was kind of providential for me. I just came in last year, and that was the first year they had them. They had them back there (in the trainers’ room) and they said, `Do you want to try one out?’ I tried it and I loved it. From everything I hear, they’re great for concussions, and it’s nice because they tighten around your head, so it’s a good, solid fit, real comfortable. I’ve been in three fights so far and it hasn’t come off yet. Sometimes I like to get the hair out there, but I guess I’ll take the punches off my helmet as opposed to off my head. … You don’t really notice it, minute to minute, but you do feel that it tightens the whole head, as opposed to front to back. So definitely it feels real snug and it feels good. You don’t really notice it, and that’s the idea.”

Westgarth, a product of Princeton University, almost certainly just became the first professional athlete to use the word “providential” in a quote. Here are Mitchell’s thoughts on the helmet…

MITCHELL: “I did a little bit of research on them. That’s kind of been their frontier, so to speak. They’ve done shock tests and stuff like that, and it’s the next level for helmets. It’s tough, because everyone has different beliefs on it. There’s no perfect science for it. It’s not peer-reviewed yet either. They put out their science and say, `This is best for shock and concussions and all that.’ Then Bauer puts out theirs and Reebok puts out theirs, and it’s all within points of each other. They’ve done their own, independent testing on it but no one has peer-reviewed it, so how do you gauge? I’m not sure on that. I’ve been trying it. It’s been so-so, so far. I think the No. 1 thing for a helmet, just personally after going through a concussion like I did, is having the right fit. If the helmet doesn’t fit on your head right, it’s not going to do you any good. You can have the highest test-rated helmet, by their standards, on your head, and if it doesn’t fit right, it’s not going to do you any good. You need something that fits your head right and stays on. If it fits your head right, it will absorb that blow the best. So I’m kind of going around with it a bit, giving it a shot, and we’ll see where it goes. I don’t know if I’m going to wear it for the season yet. I’m just trying it out.”

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.