Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 03/18/13 at 02:25 AM ET
27% of NHL players don't wear visors, and the NHLPA insists that players have the final say when it comes to donning "shields." According to the Globe and Mail's David Shoalts, players may not have a choice sooner than later, and the push for mandatory visor use isn't just coming from coaches, GM's and the NHL any more:
Lalita Mohabir is a senior personal accident underwriter at Burns & Wilcox Canada. Her company has medical insurance policies with more than 24 minor-league and NHL players that cover them in the case of serious and career-ending injuries. Mohabir says Burns & Wilcox will not insure any amateur players who buy a policy unless they wear a mouthguard and a visor and any NHL player looking to supplement the coverage supplied by the league with a personal policy will soon be told he must do the same or be denied coverage.
“We are getting tougher in terms of any hockey leagues we’re quoting on or any individual we offer coverage on,” Mohabir said. “We are indicating we require mandatory use of a visor. We started doing this [before] Marc Staal got injured. Going through to the NHL, we have not requested this as yet but we will be doing that. When we look at a player fracturing a hand or bruising a knee it’s quite different than the loss of an eye. The loss of an eye is a career-ending injury."
Aside from the common sense of protecting a player’s eyesight in a league where the game has never been faster and sticks and pucks routinely fly around players’ heads, the insurance industry is simply reacting to the economics of the matter. With players like Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signing NHL contracts worth more than $100-million (all currency U.S.), even one catastrophic injury could wipe out much profit in what Mohabir says is (so far) a profitable line of policies.
The question of making American Hockey League, ECHL and amateur players wear visors or forego any insurance payments is moot since using them is mandatory in those leagues. But the NHL, home to the highest-paid players in the world, remains the most notable holdout.
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