Jan 5, 2011, 8:36 PM EDT
As shots kept getting harder (and sailing higher) and players kept getting bigger and stronger, the NHL evolved to find ways to make the violent sport of hockey survivable enough for players to make it through lengthy regular seasons. Yet in a sport in which toughness (and some might even say masculinity) is always at the forefront – whether it be in scrums or the borderline insane act of placing your body in front of a 100 mph slap shot – almost every bit of added safety found some opposition.
Jacques Plante received plenty of grief when he became the first NHL goalie to don a primitive mask, even from his own head coach. Hockey players were so strongly resistant to wearing helmets that the league didn’t require players who already skated without helmets to don one. (Call it a “grandfather with a bloody nose” clause.)
Each time, there was at least some thought that such innovations would reduce the effectiveness of the players. For instance: people felt that a mask might hinder the peripheral vision of a netminder.
One of the most common debates regarding player safety comes in the form of whether or not the NHL should force its players to wear visors. Proponents of such a rule can boast obvious examples of athletes who suffered from disturbing eye injuries playing hockey. From Steve Yzerman to Al MacInnis to Bryan Berard and Mike Mottau (seen in this post’s photo), the sport has no shortage of cautionary tales in which a visor might have saved the day.
On the other hand, those who prefer to play without a visor say that they enjoy improved vision with their eyes exposed. Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber said just that when Josh Cooper asked him about Ryan Getzlaf’s gnarly sinus fracture injury.
Both sides have some reasonable arguments, so we thought we would ask: should the NHL require players to wear visors? And if so, should the league follow the formula created by the helmet requirements by allowing players who previously played in the NHL to be “grandfathered in” and play without one or should the NHL/NHL Players Association force players old and new to skate with a visor in? Let us know by voting in the poll below.
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