Sad Loss in the Tenders’ World

Brian Heaton, more so than any other person on this planet, revolutionized modern goalie equipment.  He passed away this week after suffering a heart attack at the age of 58.

In my opionion Heaton’s greatest innovation was the introduction of man-made materials to the manufacturing process.  Remember Cooper’s Durasoft line of goalie gear? (see photo of Mike Vernon in previous post)  That was all Heaton.  Today we can’t imagine a goalie wearing anything but equipment in his or her team colors but that’s only because Heaton thought of using colored materials on a wide-scale basis.  He was more than a friend to goalies though as he also revolutionized skaters’ protection with the invention of the Cooperall.  Yes, the long shell was ultimately booed out of the hockey world but today’s player pants bear a strong resemblance to the original girdle designed by Heaton.

My first memory of Brian’s goalie pads was at a tournament in Montreal and seeing an opposing goalie’s pads sporting a plastic guard in front of the toe to prevent pucks from sliding under your pad.  Such a simple addition but it was pure genius.  All of a sudden I had pad envy.

Heaton ultimately lost the Brian’s company to his partner.  This Windsor Star article says he was bought out by his business partner but I remember hearing stories at the time describing the split as being much more hostile.  Regardless, the Heaton line of equipment was soon born and eventually bought by a holding company that produces products under the Koho brand.  Today his name lives on in the BHG (Brian Heaton Goalie) line of equipment.  At the time of this post there was no mention of Brian’s passing on the company website.

Believe it or not, Heaton never played goal in his life!

Heaton is survived by Sally, his wife of 28 years and by his four children Marshall, Kimberly, Ryan and Stephanie.  Tenders Lounge sends its condolences to his family but more importantly sends its gratitude to Brian Heaton for a lifetime of service to millions of goalies.



  1. Brian was of course my dad. I am very glad to be able to call him my dad. He had a big heart and just an all around wonderful guy. What he did was amazing. I think about him everyday. This is a great article.

  2. I didn’t know much about the man. I live in L.A. and am not exactly in a hockey hotbed. Nevertheless I played goalie for about 10 years in a park roller league. I played with a Heaton helmet and have a Heaton blocker but never had Heaton pads. I am now attempting a “comeback” and just purchased some Heaton 5 pads in very good condition. I never knew the history of the man’s legacy, but will now be proud to wear them in my little Torrance, CA. roller hockey league. Thanks for my pads Mr. Heaton! This old 40 year old will do my best to represent! Peace to the family. GOD bless!

  3. Great man. Great equipment. What he gave to the world shows that one person can truly make a difference.

    I wish his family the best for the future, and that he will not be forgotten as there is a goalie in every arena who is being protected by something Brian created with his passion.

    Many Thanks and R.I.P

  4. I will never forget the first time I saw a pair of Heaton goal pads. They were at a very small hockey store called Hockey Unlimited wich was located across the street from Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood Illinois.
    My dad took me and my brother there to buy hockey tape and behind the counter on the shelf was a pair of the origional all white Heaton Pro pads! They had dark brown straps on them and the puck foils.
    I remember staring at them in awe and wanting them so bad. Of course I was just getting started in hockey and my dad wasnt ready to buy me a brand new set of pads yet but either way, I wanted a pair.
    A couple years later when I entered into highschool it was time to buy a new set of gloves and pads. My dad took us to Gunzo’s Sports and I picked up a pair of brand new Heaton gloves and Brian’s pads. I remember how great everything felt and how well that equipment performed.
    I still have the glove and pads to this day. In fact, I collect gear now as a hobby and have 2 pairs of Heaton pads. The Helite II’s and the Helite III’s all from the early 1990’s. They are made very well and allot of fun to keep in my collection. Hopefully I can take them back out on the ice one day.

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