Friday, May 13, 2011

Playing Without a Visor: Stupidity vs. Toughness

It's a hotly contested debate depending on the time of year and who's been hurt recently, whether or not visors should be made mandatory in the NHL.  I have a few friends who think it's asinine to go without a visor with the prospect of suffering catastrophic damage to the eyes a very real possibility.

I disagree and if you were wondering, my money is where my mouth is and I have never worn any sort of facial protection while playing hockey.  The notion that any additional protection is a must is a flawed one.  There is a point that can be reached where the odds of injuring what the new equipment protects are so low, that the new protection is essentially a waste.  Whether or not this applies to visors is up to you, but for me the distaste of wearing one outweighs the odds of suffering such an eye injury.

I know there are a few horror stories of players losing an eye or suffering damage around the eyes, but they are few and far between.  And from what I've seen, this is the selling point.  I've seen a bunch of people calling for visors for eye protection, but virtually no one looking to make cages mandatory to protect the rest of the face.  Four of the recent big facial injuries that stick in my mind would not have been prevented with a mandatory visor rule (Ian Laperriere) and three of them happened to players that do wear visors (Thomas Vanek, Jordan Leopold, and Chris Drury (whether or not Drury was wearing a visor during the 06-07 playoffs, I do not remember)).

I think it goes without saying that Visors do offer protection to a very valuable part of the body and are a good investment for those that use them.  But I remain firmly opposed to any rule mandating visors.  I don't think there's enough contact to the eyes to make their absence excessively dangerous, and they don't do anything to prevent the majority of contact to the face.  Let the guys that want to be men, be men.

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