I’m all for the old-fashioned let your kids play outside and get dirty, and yeah sometimes they get hurt. They’re kids, that’s the way it goes. But when it comes to multi-million dollar professional athletes:
WEAR A VISOR.
Martin St. Louis was hit in the face during Tampa Bay’s practice yesterday. He suffered facial and nasal fractures that can’t even be properly determined until the swelling in his face goes down. This is the man who, in last year’s playoffs, had a two teeth knocked out, a double root canal and was back on the ice the next day. We know you’re tough, Squishy. And right now you’re “out indefinitely” with an avoidable injury.
Last week Jordan Staal caught a puck near the eye against Carolina. The camera cut to Eric, looking worried and probably thinking, “Shit, Mom is going to kill us.” Jordan, who has been seriously injured by a shot to the face before, was lucky to have no structural damage and didn’t miss any games. But he has played the last two matches with a visor.
There are a million instances of visor-preventable injuries. Hell, even Pronger’s wearing one now after his most recent stick-to-the-face. I think visors should be mandatory. Remember before helmets were compulsory, and how totally asinine that seems now? As much fun as it was to watch Craig MacTavish’s curls blowing in the wind, by the time he was the only bare-headed player on the ice he looked foolish and antiquated.
I know some players hate visors. I understand how it can disrupt peripheral vision and create distortion when you look out from underneath. Puck Daddy’s anonymous NHL-er “The Player” made his case this week, prior to St. Louis’ injury [link]. I wear glasses for distance and it was a long-term process to adjust, especially since I don’t wear them all the time. But you do get used to it. And if everyone wears a visor, any disadvantage is negated.
These days, with “player safety” as much the NHL’s industry buzz-word as “Kardashian” is to gossip mags, the simple argument of “I don’t like it” seems petulant. People don’t like wearing seat belts or eating vegetables, but it’s stupid not too. And when you get hurt, we can’t just say I told you so. We count the cost in man-games lost, points unscored and positions left open.
Obviously a visor won’t prevent all injuries. There’s also the issue of fighting, which the League hates to love, and the stigma of throwing punches with a shield on. If everyone wears a visor, does everyone ditch their helmet and whip their hair before duking it out? Who knows. Don Cherry thinks only wusses and Europeans wear visors. I disagree – I think smart guys who dream of long careers wear visors. You’re going to get hurt playing hockey, that much is clear. Limit injuries where possible and save your blood for another battle.