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Seeing Through the Issues; Visors Should Be Discussed Again And Now

There are many safety devices in our modern age that can feel a little inconvenient at times. In fact, I know a few professional drivers who refuse to wear seatbelts. Yes, in 2011. They have had multiple tickets, but that doesn’t faze them.

When helmets came to be a rule in the NHL there was some hesitation and some that weren’t on board with the idea but eventually everyone had to adapt. There have been other safety measures that have been brought in, but for some reason, visors have yet to be made mandatory.


Magnus Paajarvi hopes to see clear enough through his visor to make a long and successful career for himself.

I find it interesting with all of the concerns over head trauma and injury, all of the close calls with pucks to the face that so many players still chose not to wear visors, but it is still a choice that each player is allowed to make.

For some players, it takes a close call, a near miss, a traumatic event which is likely a puck to the face or very near their eye that makes them at least try a visor. Others were used to wearing them in junior hockey and so decide to keep wearing it. Ethan Moreau while with the Edmonton Oilers had a close call with a hockey stick  that has permanently altered his physical appearance.

Although Moreau was lucky, and maintained his vision, he now has one pupil that is oval in shape and no longer round.  Moreau did choose to sport a visor following the incident, but later chose once again not to wear one. It’s too bad given that after the accident, Moreau said “I never took a stance on visors in the last 10 years, I just didn’t wear one. I chose not to. It’s unfortunate to go through an eye injury like I went through to realize I should wear one. There’s not really an argument why you shouldn’t.”

Moreau is not the only player who has had an injury like this. Ryan Getzlaf was struck between the eyes with a puck last December and Vincent Lecavalier received a scratch to the cornea last season that prompted GM Steve Yzerman to also recommend that the league make visors mandatory. Of course there were many more players that have had close calls but it’s the game’s biggest stars that tend to create the biggest stir when injured; just look at what Sindey Crosby’s concussion has changed attitudes about hits to the head.

Those players who choose not to wear a visor typically say that it impedes their vision; that they feel they play a better game without one. An interesting fact however, is that all 10 of the top 10 NHL goal scorers in the NHL last season wear a visor; Corey Perry , Steven Stamkos, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Marleau, Jeff Carter, Patrick Sharp, Bobby Ryan and Danny Briere.

There is still seemingly a stigma amongst players, that weaker men wear visors. I’m sure that same was thought and felt about helmets, but somehow or another, players got over that issue.

What seems to be the easiest solution to easing visors in as a rule would be to treat the issue the same as helmet rules. As mentioned, junior players wear visors, to continue wearing a visor in the NHL wouldn’t be difficult. For players who chose to discard the visor when they entered the NHL and now have played without a visor for a number of seasons, it may be difficult to get used to wearing one again. No one likes to change, but the NHL is looking to take measures that will protect their players and surely this is an easy fix and something that would be easy to implement.

Making changes to the rules and to the game of NHL hockey to prevent head trauma will not be easy or quick, but changes need to be made just the same. With something as simple as a visor, why should the NHL hesitate any longer? The call for visors has been made for years, but now seems to be as good a time as any to bring it up once again.


Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, NHL, Player Safety, | Oil Patch | Permalink



You are so right about “for some players, it takes a close call” Happened to me, after numerous stitches chipped teeth, broken nose. All that did not stop me but a breakaway chance where the goalie went for a poke check did it. The goal stick rode up mine and swept across my face cutting my eyelid. Looking in the mirror after the game was done convinced me. Such a close call between loosing an eye.. even now I sometimes want to go without but quickly remind myself of the dangers.

Posted by puckinthehead from thunder bay on 09/22/11 at 11:56 AM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

And you’re playing for the love of the game. When it is your livelihood and you need to earn a salary that will last through most of your life in a few short years, why take unnecessary risks to your health and career?

I realize that visors can’t prevent everything, that some injuries will still happen, but we have accepted that seatbelts help, that airbags help despite some risks. What’s the holdup?

Posted by Lisa Brown on 09/22/11 at 12:10 PM ET

DocF's avatar

The fact that a widely recognized tough guy like Iginla wears a visor should get rid of any stigma attached.  It is time to institute mandatory visors.  It might be done progressively by making new players in the NHL wear them.  On initiation of this rule, those who have not played 90 games over the last three years should be required to wear a visor.

Also, we need to continue to research helmet design to produce a safer helmet.  We also need to enforce wearing helmets in the proper manner.  That is with the chin strap adjust to keep the helmet on the head.


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 09/22/11 at 02:25 PM ET

Lisa Brown's avatar

Doc, I agree. I admire the work that Mark Messier is doing to work on a helmets. Unfortunately it had a lot of attention in 2009, but then seemed to die off.

Posted by Lisa Brown on 09/22/11 at 02:42 PM ET

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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

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