The visor debate

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Hockey

I’ve been thinking of writing about this topic for a couple of weeks now.  However, other events led to other topics.  Then, events tonight involving NHL veteran Chris Pronger brought it back to the forefront: visors in hockey.

Many arguments have been made through the years as to whether or not they should be mandated.  Some say no because it should be the player’s personal choice – hockey’s version of Roe vs. Wade almost.  Others say no because it creates respectful play out on the ice as opponents are more guarded around the head area of a visor-less player.  Then there’s the overwhelming gray area for the “no” side and that is “The Code”.

As part of hockey’s code, tough guys usually don’t sport a visor and the enforcers most definitely do not.  Two schools of thought go along with that.  One, it’s just not very macho to be a tough guy with a visor.  Two, you can’t go out there policing the game with physical play and chirping and yet hide behind added security.  To me, the code argument is the toughest one to debate against.  There is no arguing the code.  Not only is it one you will never win, but you look completely foolish for even trying.

However, there is a “yes” side to this whole discussion and that’s the side I lean toward.  Why?  I give one reason every time and tonight’s incident with Pronger is the latest living proof: inadvertent objects to the face.  From blind-siding pucks to high sticks to (the worst fear of all) skate blades.  It’s those unexpected facial injuries where the visor truly does its duty.  That one added piece of safety equipment could save innocent victims a lot of time off the ice, pain or even more importantly their careers.

In today’s age of the game, it’s all about safety.  You need not look any further than the way they’re handling hitting in today’s game.  The NHL is beginning to stand for the No Hit League.  But, I guess that’s an entirely different discussion – or more of a rant depending on how you want to look at it.  Bottom line, though, if safety is such a concern then how can you try to ignore unnecessary major injuries that are only going to continue happening?

Yes, I know visors go against the code.  Yes, I know I said you can’t argue against the code.  Yes, I fully understand how no visors can increase respect from opponents.  No, I don’t think any of those are good enough reasons to not attempt protecting a very significant part of the human body.  Sure, maybe it should be the player’s individual choice if he wants his career ended by a stick or puck that he never saw coming.  After all, these men risk their health every time they lace ’em up.  But, what happens when a superstar, face-of-the-franchise or league player loses his career a quarter of the way through it because of a significant eye injury?  Then what?

Maybe then everyone will realize these guys look way cooler on the ice with visors as oppose to no visor and eventually sitting in a La-Z-Boy instead of on the bench.

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