This week, let’s throw it back to the era of ITECH. Before the merge with Mission and pre-Bauer days. The late 80s.
ITECH Sport Products was recognized worldwide as the pioneer in head, facial and goalie facial innovation. Founded in 1984 by Robin Burns, a former NHL hockey player, ITECH was one of the most successful and fastest-growing hockey brands in the industry. ITECH had more certified products than any other hockey equipment supplier in the industry.
ITECH then released one of the true beauties in the equipment world. The ITECH II. But I don’t want to discuss the clear one that everyone has owned and used. What I’m talking about is the Yellow or Amber ITECH II — a true gem. It was a full, all out, yellow visor. It oozed swag. So much so that years later, NHL players like Eric Weinrich wore a tinted Yellow Oakley half-shield. This instantly catapulted him in the all-time greats for the uniform swag hall of fame. In the same way that Ovechkin gained entry with the smoke mirrored visor, Weinrich was one of a few of his time with so much flavor he needed a yellow visor to play the game. He rocked “the blue blocker” hardcore and looked amazing doing it.
It all came about in 2003, Oakley began tinkering with colored visors. Weinrich, Kyle Mclaren and Al Macinnis all wore them at some point. Weinrich was friends with a developer over at Oakley. He was asked to try the visor out and see if it helped his game. It certain didn’t hurt his game, as he suited up for over 1,000 NHL. He was a steady defenseman that now could stand out just by the color of his visor. It gained him some style points for sure and most likely extended his career.
There’s a funny history surrounding this yellow half-shield for another NHL’er. In 2003-04 season, McLaren wore the Oakley tinted yellow visor accidentally. He took a slap shot from Sami Salo to the head — with no face protection at the time — which made him turn to the half-shield. But his fellow San Jose Sharks teammates figured they would get a good goof on him and switch his visor from clear to yellow right before the national anthems. He put it on, went right out on ice and played the whole game with it! Later everyone found out that McLaren was actually colorblind and didn’t even notice the visor was yellow.
The yellow half-shield never really met its potential in the show. With the smoke and mirror tints becoming much more popular, the Amber-look faded off into the sunset (or sunrise if you’re actually looking through one). The origins of the Amber tint were simple: it was to provide better vision and reduce glare from the bright lights from the arena. It also helped players returning from concussions, like the smoke or tinted visors today. The yellow brightened the ice, making it easier for players to see. Think Blue Blocker sunglasses: you can now see in High Definition, yet it never really took off as advertised.
So it’s bound to happen. At some point in your hockey career you will want a full visor. Maybe you’re watching a Junior A or College hockey game and see a player wearing a full visor, like the Bauer Concept III, aka the fishbowl. With the flowing locks of hair waving out the back of the helmet, the visor dangling from the chin, you will say to yourself, “I want to look like that!”. The fishbowl allure.
And I stand here to say, go for it. I have always loved the fishbowl. I wore one from my squirt days and on-and-off through college. If you take care of it, the vision compared to a cage is not even close. Two major tips: Invest in Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo and get a comeback to the chirps ready. “I can’t hear you roll down your window,” or “Hey buddy, you find Nemo?” Be prepared to have a comeback. Don’t be lame.
But back to the mellow yellow visor. Nothing compares to the Original Itech II. A simple full face shield all yellow, and a true throwback.
So as I put my fishbowl into “This Old Hockey Bag”, I dream of the day Bauer re-releases this yellow relic in the hockey world. Hey if the Oreo Cage can make a comeback, why not the mellow yellow visor? #bringbacktheamber
If you want to get your hands on the newest full hockey shields, Pure Hockey has ’em all.
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