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Hodgemail: Should visor use be decided only by the players?

TSN.ca Staff

10/25/2011 8:23:45 PM

It's a debate in hockey that's older than head shots and no-touch icing.

The issue is the use of visors - and it came up again after Monday's game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers.

In the first period, Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger and Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski sprinted for a loose puck. Grabovski slapped at the puck and his stick connected with Pronger's stick and the blade went straight up into Pronger's face.

Screaming in pain, Pronger quickly clutched his face and went straight to the dressing room. The Flyers hope their captain - who complained of blurred vision after the incident - will get back in two to three weeks depending on how the injury heals and said that he will need to wear a visor to be cleared to play.

"I think he was very scared and rightly so," GM Paul Holmgren told the Associated Press. "When something like that happens to your eye, you're worried about what's going on."

Which begs the age-old question - should Pronger (like any of his fellow NHLers who still skate on the ice with just a helmet) have worn a visor in the first place?

A lot of players feel the use of visors restrict their vision on the ice and affect their play. The league and players' association have done their best to educate them on health and equipment-related decisions, but wearing a visor is still a choice that a player makes on his own.

Is it time to take that stance a step or two further?

So here was Dave's question to you - "Should the use of visors be decided solely by the players themselves?"

Here are some of the best responses:

"Never mind a rule; it's just a matter of time before all players are wearing visors willingly." - Tony

"If a player doesn't value his eyesight and his career, it's his problem." - Derek

"Teams have to honour players' contracts, and it's the players' responsibility to do everything possible to be healthy enough to do the same." - Yuri

"I sweat. My visor fogs up. I can't see. And that's a big problem in a beer league." - Rick

"Goalies wear masks. All other players wear visors. Pretty basic." - Joe

"It should absolutely be the choice of the players. If the use of visors is mandated, I'll stop watching hockey." (That's your extremist anti-visor fan--to the right of you-know-who, I'm thinking). - Karel

"Visors are mandatory in the AHL and I haven't heard one minor-leaguer complain that he's stuck there because of his visor." - Andy

Dave's reply to all:

You do have to wonder how many injuries it'll take, or how serious or scary the injury has to be, to bring action instead of rhetoric. Pronger's injury looked bad enough to me, and apparently sounded worse if you were there to hear his screams. I hate to use Brooks Laich's position on concussions time and again, but where safety is concerned, the players don't know best and they're not the only ones involved in deciding what's best. When he returns, Chris Pronger will undoubtedly be told to wear a visor, at least temporarily. Imagine how silly it would sound if he resisted; about as silly as drivers complaining about seat belts, cyclists about helmets, workers about boots, or welders about goggles. Hockey players' faces are protected from the time they enter youth ranks. Their faces are protected in the AHL, and in the Olympics. What is the reason they're not necessarily protected in the National Hockey League? Some NHL players are stubborn? I can't think of another reason.