Nowadays, there are almost as many Europeans as Americans in the NHL. Every team in the NHL has players from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and so on, and they’re all much respected and well-liked by their fellow players, coaches and fans.
But during the former days of the NHL, that wasn’t the case.
Players and coaches weren’t always so kind to European players, and they were a constant target to the opposing teams. So that’s why former enforcer Neil Sheehy got a brilliant idea to keep him and fellow teammate Peter Bondra safe.
”I skated my first year with the Jofa helmet. But Neil Sheehy took the helmet from me, and he gave me the CCM. I asked him why, and he said, ’Well, if I know you’re European, and I go to the corner, then I’m gonna kill you.’ So he tried to protect me, cause obviously he was a tough guy, and he felt responsibility to make sure nothing happened to me.”
”The game was different then, from now, so he just switched helmet. And it was no problem for me.”
But one year later, after Sheehy got traded, Peter Bondra saw something he didn’t expect.
”I’m on the warmup and Neil is skating on the other side. And he’s got the Jofa helmet! During the game, I didn’t ask him, but when we met after the game, I asked him why. He said, ’I want to look European.’ I was laughing as crazy. I had great teammates who always tried to help me.”
READ ALSO: When Scott Stevens invited his teammates to his cabin, just to get angry at them for not working hard enough