Visors appear mandatory in future

On March 5, the New York Rangers’ Marc Staal was hit in the face by a slap shot from the Philadelphia Flyers’ Kimmo Timmonen. Staal left the ice and did not return because he had suffered serious damage to his eye. Initial reports indicated that he would be out indefinitely, but now rumors are spreading of his return in the coming weeks.
While it appears as though Staal will make a full recovery from the injury, the National Hockey League (NHL) may not. The gruesome injury to the Rangers’ defenseman has spawned a serious debate about the necessity of visors for all players, or has at least drawn attention to the idea.
The NHL’s general managers (GMs) held a meeting in Toronto on March 20, and one of the main topics of discussion was the notion of whether or not visors should be mandatory for all players. The idea certainly resounded within the members of the meeting, as the GMs have been said to fully support it and have little reason to oppose it. From a business standpoint, visors will protect their investments.
All other major leagues in North America such as the American (AHL), East Coast (ECHL) and Ontario (OHL) Hockey Leagues have mandated visors so a visor rule in the NHL looks imminent. 
The NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) also appears to support the idea of visors being mandatory to an extent, as the notion of grandfathering in the rule seems to be a middle ground between them and the league. Grandfathering in the rule would mean that all new players to the NHL are required to wear visors, and that all current players will still have the option to not wear one until they retire.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has a similar rule: all players born after December 31, 1974 are required to wear a visor.
The NHLPA has released a statistic claiming that approximately 72 percent of players in the NHL are wearing visors already, so the idea of all players wearing visors does not seem to be implausible.
The injury to Staal seems to have been a catalyst for an issue that has been ignored for too long: back on March 11, 2000, Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman Bryan Berard was almost permanently blinded in one eye from being hit in the eye by another player’s stick.
While accidents that serious may not happen on a regular basis, they are preventable. If there was a direct cause associated with such injuries – if they only happened to people who blocked shots, for example – then it might be easier to argue against instituting visors as mandatory protection. Players could be blamed, if that was the case: they choose to risk their safety for the game, so they are aware of the possible consequences. That is not always the case, however, as the injury to Staal shows: the puck was deflected before hitting him, and he did not appear to be attempting to block the shot at all.
The general agreement to instate a new rule for mandatory visors and the statistic from the NHLPA displays that most are supportive of the added protection. It appears as though some form of rule change will occur: whether it is that visors become mandatory, grandfathered in or otherwise, something will be done to prevent the career-threatening injuries possible when not wearing one.

Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>