Making hockey safer and improving player protection remain multi-faceted, intertwined and long-term challenges. But Mark Messier believes progress is being made in the mission, one the Hall of Famer has championed personally.
A big step just took place: Bauer Performance Sports has concluded its acquisition of Cascade Sports and The Messier Project.
The Messier Project, a collaboration between Cascade and the NHL legend, has raised awareness for player safety and head protection issues since its launch in 2009. In 2010, the North American Hockey League (NAHL) became the first junior league to adopt The Messier Project helmets on a league-wide basis. The partnership continues today with all 24 NAHL teams wearing one of the two Messier Project’s helmets, the groundbreaking M11 and new M11 PRO, which have given hockey players new technology in the battle to reduce the risks of concussions and other head injuries.
“We are very supportive of Mark’s vision and proud to have been the first junior hockey league to adopt The Messier Project on a league-wide basis,” said NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “Our players’ safety has always been a top priority and the acquisition of The Messier Project by Bauer Performance Sports will allow the company to further grow, enhance and improve the visionary mission that was set forth three years ago in keeping our players safety at the forefront.”
The Messier Project, its technology and Mark's personal commitment will not only continue, but be amplified under the banner of the industry-leading Bauer Hockey brand.
“When we launched The Messier Project, our goal was to make a difference,” said Messier. “It was an extension of a personal mission to better protect players and make the game safer through education and awareness, and product innovation. We’ve made great strides with this initiative,” Mark added. “And now the acquisition of Cascade by Bauer Performance Sports is exciting for The Messier Project and for me personally.
“The support of the NAHL, one of the most respected hockey programs in the United States, means a lot to us here at The Messier Project,” said Messier, who was on hand at the 2010 NAHL Showcase to debut the helmet. “We are proud to be moving into our third season with the NAHL and value the relationship because of the valuable feedback the member teams can provide.”
Mark has been involved personally from start-to-finish in the development of The Messier Project’s helmets. An admitted perfectionist when it comes to his own equipment, he has applied the same insight and scrutiny to the M11 and M11 PRO. Now Mark will be able to partner with the combined resources of Bauer and Cascade in future product development.
“I look forward to working together with the Bauer and Cascade teams to continue to drive our mission,” he said. “I am very optimistic about our ability to accelerate progress in improving player protection, and deliver the most innovative head protection in the game of hockey.”
Mark remains active in the rollout of The Messier Project’s new M11 PRO helmet, the “next evolution” of the groundbreaking M11. Like the M11, the M11 PRO is built around Cascade Sports’ patented Seven Technology, an impact attenuation liner system that’s designed to more effectively manage energy transfer from direct impact. The M11 PRO blends the advanced protection with a new streamlined design, aggressive styling and improved features to create a new level of elite performance, fit and comfort.
Mark points out that the M11 has been widely embraced by hockey players, teams, coaches and parents at grassroots and developmental levels of the game. The design and features of M11 PRO are part of an effort to get the same advanced technology and protection on to the heads of elite players.
“After two years on the market we received a lot of feedback from the players,” Messier said. “At the elite level, players felt really positive about the protection and comfort of the M11, but wanted a more streamlined design and look. We know from experience that we can’t ignore elite players demands for the right design — the 'mirror test' for hockey helmets,” he added. “We’ve responded to that with the M11 PRO, a model that offers advanced protection and pro-level performance. The M11 and the M11 PRO give players two great options for advanced head protection.”
Mark was adamant on achieving an optimal fit with the M11 and M11 PRO, one that makes the helmet an extension of the player and completely unnoticeable during games. Players are telling him The Messier Project has accomplished that with both helmets.
“Comfort plays a role in protection,“ he said. "By eliminating pressure points, players are more likely to achieve a snug fit that keeps the helmet in place during play and on impact. The ProFit system is positioned low below the natural curve of the head with a mechanism that adjusts the entire helmet shell to provide a true, 360° custom fit.”
The Pro Fit system was first introduced in Cascade Sports’ top-selling line of lacrosse helmets and updated for the M11. The enhanced Pro Fit2 in the M11 Pro is a high precision, 15-point, no tool micro-adjustment system with a new ultra-compact, tapered design.
The M11 PRO is available in a full size range (s-m-l), and a Combo version that includes a perfectly fitted Cascade certified steel wire face protector in a neutral gray color for enhanced vision. Like the M11, the M11 PRO can be custom ordered in one of 256 color combination to help build team identities.