Recently, I found myself digging through my parents’ garage, full of old hockey bags and stumbled upon a true throwback. The elusive Jofa Bubble Cage. Jofa Model 51-270, made in Sweden. Wow. A true gem from the late 80′ to the early 90’s. If you didn’t wear a shield or fishbowl back then, you wore this, or wanted to. The “look” is just amazing. We still have people asking for them today. It had the best view from a cage, until the recent introduction of flat bars. It was white! Not black, grey or chrome… White! In theory or myth, it blended the bars with the ice creating a new, better view. Also, Jofa made the space between bars wider to increase vision as well.
These are so rare today- fetching over $100-$150 for one in good condition on Ebay. Many online are junior size or pretty banged up. Due to rarity, these have become highly sought after. Let’s look back at how this came to be one of the most popular and sought after hockey cages ever produced.
First, we all know the NHL sets the precedent for equipment in the retail market. Rewind to the 1980’s. Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri wearing the sleek broom ball style Jofa helmets; Petr Klima wearing a wastebasket bin on his head, and many players still letting the flow go. Kids wanted a taste of Jofa.
Then Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr wore the Jofa 366 — but still no cage. Goalies like Arturs Irbe had ridiculous looking Jofa cages. But that was in the big leagues. Retail wise, Jofa was from Sweden and not made in Canada or America, which made it tougher to find. Players could go with the similar Cooper VL-50 cage, but most wanted the Jofa. They could also find the Jofa 390 helmet/cage combo fairly easily and used the cage on their helmet. That cage is now the CCM 580 that a huge percentage of players are wearing in white, black and Oreo. But for those true stylist gear heads, we wanted something different.
European and American college players in the late 80’s and early 90’s started taking the “bubble” cage off the Jofa 280 goalie helmet and adding it to the Bauer 4000 or CCM HT2, and the allure was born. The first time I remember seeing it was the University of North Dakota (UND) in 1990-91 season. It was in ’91-92 that I saw guys from Boston university, Providence, and Maine using these more frequently. I’m sure UND wasn’t the first or only, but as a 10-year-old when I saw this, I wanted to look like that. And still do. Anyone at the time could find a 391 cage and it looked good, fit well, and performed. But everyone wanted the Jofa 270 “bubble”.
In today terms… One word: Swag. If the lettuce was flowing, and you couldn’t wear a halfer, you had to rock this cage. The look of the “bubble” is unreal. It sits close to most players’ faces, which is why everyone wears them loose. Plus, with wide vision lines and white color makes this pop.
Nowadays in 2015, we don’t have any replicas or knockoffs to it yet. Which is strange and adds to the allure because as you can see, we have 2 current cages that are modeled after the 391 cage. The CCM 480/580, which was acquired by Reebok/CCM during their initial takeover of Jofa. Then Bauer had to step up and make the Profile II cage.
For most of you now looking for that “look”, one of the newest and maybe most popular today is the Bauer Profile II, “Oreo cage”, I2, which is black outside white on inside. It’s very sought after and maybe come rare down the road… so take this tip on your way out: don’t toss or sell your old gear because you never know what could be in “this old hockey bag”!