Blog Entry

Players still see protective visors as a choice

Posted on: October 25, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 5:39 pm
VisorsBy: Adam Gretz

The eye injury suffered by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger on Monday night produced the obvious reaction, as the debate as to whether or not protective visors should be made mandatory at the NHL level was instantly fired up.

Had Pronger been wearing one it's likely he wouldn't have suffered the injury and wouldn't be out of the lineup for a couple of weeks. When he does eventually return to the lineup it's expected that he'll be wearing a visor.

Will this injury, isolated as it may be, bring the NHL any closer to making visors a required piece of equipment? Probably not, and we're still probably a long way off from that becoming a reality.

As Greg Wyshynski pointed out on Monday afternoon there are still more than enough players -- including some of Pronger's own teammates, players that had to watch him take a stick in the eye on Monday night and then frantically race off the ice  -- that view it as their face, their risk and their decision. Whether or not Pronger keeps the visor he's expected to wear once he returns for the remainder of his career remains to be seen, but he wouldn't be the first player to have a change of heart after suffering an injury to his face.

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press spoke with Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom who started wearing a protective shield following an incident during the 2008-09 season when a puck hit him in the face. Said Lidstrom:
"If I'd had a shield on, it probably just would have hit the shield," Lidstrom said. "That's why I put one on. It kind of gave me a wake-up call, not having been wearing a shield for 17, 18 years maybe. So that's why I put one on. That's one of the precautions I wanted to take.

"You just have to get used to it, get over the hump of wearing it," Lidstrom said. "When you're so used to not wearing one and put one on, it's not the same. But once you get used to it, you're OK with it."
Despite Lidstrom's experience and comments, he still thinks it should be the players decision, a sentiment that was seemingly echoed by his head coach, Mike Babcock, who said "A guy like Prongs, who plays the game the way he does, and he's been doing it so long, and suddenly, someone is going to make you wear a visor. I don't know. I don't know the answer. It's an individual question."

It is an individual question, and the players, despite the occassional incident when a preventable injury does occur, seem to like it that way. And if past NHL history is any indication we're still probably a long way from having that particular piece of equipment become mandatory. Take, for example, how it took the NHL 11 years to officially make helmets mandatory following the death of Bill Masterson which came after he fell and hit his head on the ice during a game in January, 1968.

There was a time when something as practical -- and now accepted -- as helmets, and even goalie masks, were considered to be the individual players choice. And even then it was a struggle. When Jacques Plante wanted to wear his first goalie mask, because he had so suffered so many broken bones in his face, his coach, Toe Blake, attempted to prevent him from wearing it during games because, as the story goes, he felt it would hurt his goaltenders vision (oddly enough, that's one of the biggest complaints current players have regarding visors).

Eventually common sense prevailed in both cases, and helmets and goalie masks are now accepted pieces of equipment at all levels of hockey. It seems inevitable that the same thing will one day happen with the visor, but based on the mindset of so many current players it doesn't seem like that day is as close as it probably should be.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Aug 1, 2011
Posted on: October 28, 2011 8:31 am

Players still see protective visors as a choice

Helmets where only mandatory by the NHL because of the Insurance companies , a player would not be covered for a head injury if he did not have a helmet on. !!!!

Since: Nov 4, 2008
Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:26 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

ok, you take a 90mph puck in the eye and we'll see how "hard" you are.

Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:21 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

At some point in time are we going to ask ourselves is playing sports worth it? I mean someone might get hurt :(

Since: May 12, 2011
Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:20 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

Goalies in face masks, then goalies in full helmets, players in full helmets, no fighting, no  hard hitting, players masks, our kids can't play on jungle gyms, no dodgeball... why is this country getting so soft?

Since: Oct 27, 2011
Posted on: October 27, 2011 1:48 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

I don't understand why it is always stated that players wouldn't be able to adjust to wearing a visor.  There can't be more than a couple of guys in the league that didn't have to wear a visor in junior.  I am 38 and started playing hockey in 1978.  I had to wear a full cage all through minor hockey and low level junior.  If I had been good enough to make it to the OHL I would have been required to wear a visor.  There are not many guys left in the league that are older than me so they have all played with visors.

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:14 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

Grandfather it in like the helmet rule.  But I do think they should make every new player wear a visor.  Still doesn't fix everything, but it does help a lot.  The visor would prevent a lot of eye injuries.  It's not that invasive either, so I don't know why they haven't made it mandatory yet.

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:24 pm

Players still see protective visors as a choice

I don't like the idea of making guys wear visors who have never worn one before in the league.    If they are going to make it a rule, it should start with a draft class not current players, but I have a feeling it will take a much more serious injurry than this to get the league to do something about it.

Good point by Gretz about how long it took for helmets to be mandatory after Masterson.   

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