By Michael Caples -
There’s a new player in the hockey helmet industry.
Michigan-based Warrior Hockey – a company that has rapidly expanded into the hockey equipment market over the last few years – is releasing their brand-new helmet to retail stores this month.
The helmet, named the Krown 360, is the latest innovation from the company based out of Warren. And senior product manager Chris Jenkinson told MiHockey earlier this month that it is a big deal for the Warrior brand.
“It’s a big category [of products], Jenkinson said. “It was a big undertaking for us that we had going now for the better part of two years, so it’s been a long time coming and it’s something that we’re pretty excited about. It’s such a big category in hockey, so for us, it’s a big deal.”
Hockey fans were first introduced to the Krown during the NHL season, most notably when Red Wings assistant captain Henrik Zetterberg started wearing the new helmet in December.
“[Zetterberg is] our biggest athlete that we have, especially for a Michigan perspective,” Jenkinson said. “He’s a very easy guy to work with when it comes to equipment. He isn’t overly particular about things. He has things that he’s very focused on. With Zetterberg, he wanted to make sure the helmet was in fact, more or less comfortable, but in a way in which he could make it adjustable, so it was very suitable for him having the four-piece adjustment.”
Jenkinson said that the comfort level of the new Krown was a focus from the beginning, which is why they teamed up with a group in Boston that had designed hockey, lacrosse, and other contact sports helmets, but also military helmets worn for extended periods of time.
“We came up with this four-piece shell and liner that’s adjusted with a single dial on the back of the helmet,” Jenkinson said. “It’s a design that’s used in a lot of combat helmets for the most part, helmets that are in special ops or Navy SEALs helmets, and helmets that guys have to wear continuously throughout a long period of time. We didn’t think that was anything unlike a hockey helmet for an elite level player or athlete that plays the game a lot. You’re on the ice up to five times a week so you want to make sure you have a certain comfort and security. We really thought that fit and comfort were the two most important things in a helmet. If a helmet fits softly, it ultimately will protect softly. That was the meat and potatoes of where we wanted to go with the design and what we wanted to do with the helmet.”
The comfort level – along with what Jenkinson described as ‘the mirror test’ – was also important to the professional players who tested the helmet.
“It really comes down to Zetterberg, he’s a handsome fellow, so a lot of things had to do with look,” Jenkinson said with a laugh. “That’s not unlike a lot of guys in the NHL. Some people go put on a helmet and they go right to the mirror to look at it, but first and foremost, they all care about fit. During the season, you’re on the ice sometimes at least twice a day, three days a week. The other four days you’re on at least one. For those guys, it all comes down to familiarity and comfort. For the most part, they don’t really want to have a helmet with a lot of hot spots so you get that burn on your brow. They want to have something they can wear all the time, and they want to have something that a lot of guys that look in the mirror would see a handsome fellow, as well.”
Jenkinson said that the design of the helmet with regards to concussions was to concede that big hits are going to happen, and that a helmet that fits well, protects well.
“We didn’t actually do anything to try and prevent concussions,” Jenkinson said. “Here, the etiquette is that the helmet is still built for contusions and mass contusions. The biggest focus on our helmet is the fit. We feel that if a helmet fits you properly, it will protect you properly. That’s our focus from the beginning. Concussions are definitely a topic we considered in-house, and it’s a conversation that we internally had. But to be honest, we’re not there on what it takes to create enough time and space within the helmet to prevent concussions.
“Really what that comes down to is how to stop the head from moving within a given time and space, so in fact that you can decelerate the head to the point where you don’t abruptly stop and have a shaking of the skull and brain. In helmets that are out on the market, in what people want to see on their head, they don’t give you enough time and space at the moment. All of the benchmark testing that we took, we always came back to fit. If the helmet fit you properly, it will protect you properly. The helmet is built for mass contusions.”
The four-piece fit system, along with the types of foam used within the helmet, offer protection for players of all ages and skill levels.
“Our key focus is our four-piece fit system, a four-piece liner controlled by a single dial on the back of the helmet,” Jenkinson said. “It’s built to give as much positive contact 360-degrees around your head. Not unlike a lot of helmets out there on the market, we use a EPP-faced liner, but then we enhance the liner with an impact foam, which is a molded foam for the temple areas and the soft tissue area on the back of your head to give it a comfortable and soft feel.”
And Warrior has put their own design efforts into a new cage for amateur players, as well.
“We designed a cage that had figures to suit our helmet first and foremost, but it does suit to fit all other helmets,” Jenkinson said. “What’s unique about the cage is that it does come in two different colors right off the bat. We have an all black, and we have a raw stainless cage with a satin finish on the inside so it takes away the glare. It’s more of a matte look, though. We really simplified the chin cup look. It slides up and down on the two front bars of the lower chin, so it’s adjustable, but very simple. From there, we made it removable, so you can wash it. Even for older kids, if you’re on the bench, kids put it in their mouth and chew on it. With things like staph infections nowadays, it’s really important that certain parts of your equipment can be washed and chin cups are like that.”
Jenkinson said that hockey players and fans can expect to see the Krown across the NHL next season.
“We’re pretty excited to launch,” Jenkinson said. “And we’ll be back in the NHL. We’ll have more inventory to service more athletes, so we’ll see more guys on the Wings for sure, and then more across the NHL.”