I always found it interesting how the helmet has become one of the most vital pieces of equipment that hockey players wear. It seems so obvious now as we have become accustomed to it. A large part of the NHL’s history was played without helmets and that means KIDS were playing with no helmets for decades before they started wearing them.
What did I do? I contacted CCM themselves and asked what they had in their records of when and how helmets were introduced to their kids and their response is below
Long time former NHL player George Parsons became involved with CCM Hockey in 1939 after being forced to retire after sustaining an eye injury. Many helmet concepts were tossed around during the late 1920’s to the late 1960’s, but they never gained traction in the NHL. It wasn’t until 1979 that helmets became mandatory in the league. Parsons helped develop helmets and face protection. In 1976, CCM Hockey developed a helmet complete with a face shield as well as a lower face protector that were both approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and endorsed by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA).
Red Kelly, who was a the longtime Detroit Red Wings defenseman was an avid spokesman for helmets. He started wearing headgear shortly after being traded to Toronto in 1960. Kelly had official safety brochures distributed in Canadian schools. By 1964, approximately 200,000 youth players in the Toronto Hockey League were wearing helmets.
These days, helmets are mandatory in every league at every level. As soon as a child begins to play hockey, regardless of age, they must always have a helmet.
Some additional information can be found on Wikipedia