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Chris Pronger’s eye injury proves again why visors should be mandatory

Oct 25, 2011, 11:45 AM EDT

Chris Pronger Getty Images

Last night we were horrified by seeing Flyers captain Chris Pronger hunched over screaming in pain after taking a high-stick to the eye. Seeing a gargantuan and intimidating man like Pronger hunched over in terror that perhaps he’d had his eye irreparably injured is an awful sight for anyone to see but it’s something that’s very preventable thanks to visors.

Of course, visors aren’t mandatory in the NHL and over the past few years we’ve seen situations like this happen far too often where a player takes a stick or a puck in the eye that would’ve been prevented or deflected by a plastic visor. We saw Manny Malhotra go through the same horror late last season. Bryan Berard famously nearly lost his eye years ago and Steve Yzerman too nearly suffered such an injury when he was playing. Ian Laperriere said he’d wear a shield after taking a slap shot off his forehead. Of course, he’s still dealing with concussion problems from that shot. Things don’t always work out as planned.

While Pronger’s diagnosis seems to be good with a 2-3 week timetable for return, the Flyers are making him comeback with a visor when he’s ready to play. Why not just have all players wear them all the time, instead and spare the players the terror of seeing another of their colleagues suffer a needless injury.

We’ve made this case before, and we stand by it. The AHL already makes visors mandatory, it’s high time that the NHL and NHLPA got caught up with the times and protected themselves.

  1. cshearing - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    The NHL players do not want it mandatory. They are the ones taking the risk, so who the hell do we think we are telling them what to do? It’s not like they cannot wear a visor if they want to.

    Every time something like this happens, I end up more pissed off at the media response than the resulting injury.

    • bcisleman - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      A lot of players didn’t want to wear helmets back in the day. A lot of people still don’t wear seat belts. A lot of people insist on smoking. I don’t know that there has been any poll establishing that players do not want visors, but even if there has, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have them.

    • kellyb9 - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:44 PM

      This league and other leagues have been villanized in the past due to a lack of good safety measures. The NFL and NHL, in particular, have taken heat over concussions, and it’s really only a matter of time before we begin to see former players launching lawsuits over the lack of regulation. It simply should not be the players’ jobs to determine which safety measures they choose to follow, the NHL has a duty to protect itself from future litigation.

    • mildfan - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      If you make it mandatory, than they do not have a choice. People who work construction may not like wearing a hard hat but it is mandatory. Because sheilds are not mandatory, Fans in Philledelphia are without there best defencemen, and do not get to watch him play for 3 or 4 weeks, sucks for the fans who enjoy watching him play. Another point is it is mandatory you have to wear a sheild at all levels of play except the NHL so all players, have worn a shield at one time in there life and could problably adapt to wearing one, these are supposed to be exceptional athletes. PUT ON A SHIELD, it will not affect the play!!!!

      • jessen64 - Oct 26, 2011 at 5:27 PM

        ” PUT ON A SHIELD, it will not affect the play!!!!”

        You’ve never played Hockey have you? Even if you have, you certainly don’t have any experience with and without a visor.

    • danphipps01 - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      Like bcisleman said, there are a lot of morons who don’t want to wear seatbelts either. Guess what? Not everything is up to the individual’s choice. Why not give people a choice to drink as much as they want before driving? Why not give them a choice to do drugs? It’s their own safety, right? Their own risk? Please. They have to wear ’em in junior whether they like it or not. They have to wear helmets and masks and pads whether they like it or not, too. And why? For safety, whether it’s their risk or otherwise. This is no different.

      • nickyflip - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:12 PM

        Your attempt to use seatbelts and drunk driving as similes to wearing visors is atrocious. Seatbelts are not mandatory for the safety of the wearer but to protect the insurance of other drivers. Banning drunk driving is also to protect other people. This is America, we DO have a choice in most things as long as they don’t negatively affect others. Wearing a visor doesn’t affect anyone else’s health but the player, so the league decided to leave the choice up to the player. Like cshearing said, they’re the ones taking the risk.

    • obamablowz - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:51 AM

      But we made seat belts mandatory right?

  2. bcisleman - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Be careful, Joe. You keep this up and Grapes may take you off his Christmas card list. You don’t want that.

  3. stever451 - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    make them wear them, they cant play like adults treat them like children eff all those crusty old timers that want to get on the box and eff the players too they dont get a say in it any more they dont like it they can walk to russia and play. time for baby games is over

  4. bjleech - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Maybe the league should have stuck some visors to the fronts of helmets instead of those stupid numbers.

  5. cshearing - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    I understand everyone’s points, but I do take issue with them. Has the mandatory use of helmets made the game safer? I think that’s a highly debatable point. I’m of the opinion that it has made the game less safe. As has the armor-like shoulder and elbow pads, as well as the composite sticks.

    These safety measures may have prevented individual injuries, but as a whole they seem to have made the players more reckless. This causes other injuries to crop up. I expect the mandatory visor use (which I know is coming, I’m not an idiot) will do the same. Watch for many more sticks swinging around at head level.

    BTW, this is one reason why the seatbelt analogy falls apart; it does not promote reckless driving. At least, I would hope not. You still are going to wreck your car. :)

  6. dohpey28 - Oct 25, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Fighting should also be banned. You can’t take a stance of being all worried about concussions and player safety, then let them punch each other in the face and end up banging they’re helmet-less heads on the ice.

    • emoser - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      Agreed. They really need to take the punching out of boxing, too. There’s just too much risk of injury there.

  7. xtina55 - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Many jobs require personal protective equiment, and that is exactly what it is …. a job. The players get a paycheck to play, so if the league decides that visors are neccessary, then the players need to suck it up, wear them or get the hell out. I’m for the fast skating, the hard hitting checks, the powerful shots,but I also see the need to have the PPE, to keep all the players safe and have a long tenure in what is the greatest sport to be played!!

  8. stephaj - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    This is just another example of what is wrong today. Everybody wants to shove their opinion down everybodies throat, and never take any responsibility for what you say or do. If a player does not want to use a shield then they should be required to pay ALL their own medical bills. Or better yet take off ALL the protective gear. You have to take responsibility for your actions and words. If you want to support the no shield side then you should help pay the medical costs. Puts it in another ligh doesn’t it, or have you taken one too many

    • ogalthorpe01 - Oct 25, 2011 at 9:08 PM

      That doesn’t put it in another light at all, that is an ignorant comment. People pay for insurance for a reason. You don’t like it, watch figure skating

  9. zestypickles - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    You guys have clearly never played hockey. It’s a source of pride and an outward display of toughness and identity to play without a visor. It’s part of the game! I mean, hitting is dangerous and so is fighting! Lets make it non-contact to protect the players! NO.

    P.S. The helmet situation is much different

    • stephaj - Oct 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM

      Apparently you have never been smacked in the face by a hocky stick or puck. You probbaly watch extreme fighting too. Why don’t you take a look at Mohamed Ali. You think those body shakes are from age???? I’ve seen enough of your type in the ER, And I’ve scraped far too many helmetless types into body bags on the side of the highway. LIFE IS NOT A VIDEO GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no RESET button, and your life is short. Take care of it. And yes I have played hocky and yes I have been hit in the face. Wear a shield eyes do not grow back.

      • nickyflip - Oct 26, 2011 at 8:05 AM

        Having worked in the ER, I’m sure you see loads of car crash victims. Should I quit my job so I don’t have to drive? The point is: everyone everywhere takes some level of risk in life to get where they want to be. Who’s to say what’s worse – MMA/”extreme fighting” or taking zero risks and dying a bored old man?

  10. ogalthorpe01 - Oct 25, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    It’s hockey, people get hurt. They are getting paid very well to play a game and we all know the risks we take when we don’t wear a visor. I’ve gotten a broken nose and a broken tooth but I still hate wearing a visor. This should remain a players choice because this is a mans sport and we live in America! So if you don’t like spagetti and meatballs just get the hell out.

  11. goon48 - Oct 27, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    This is all we need more wussifcation of hockey, the next thing to go will be the tough guy and fighters, we can’t have fighting in hockey anymore.

    Hockey in the USA and Canada is soon going to look like Euro Hockey in Europe pretty soon, there will be no hitting, not fighting and a bunch shield wearing players that swing their sticks at each other.

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