March 8, 2013

Why is the NHLPA against player safety?

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

The NHLPA is reluctant to impose a mandatory visor rule and frankly, I can’t see why.

Just last week we saw the Rangers’ top defenceman Marc Staal took a deflected shot to the face and is now out with an eye injury. This could have easily been avoided if he was just wearing a visor.

In a time when every sport in the world is looking to become safer, the union for ice hockey players feels the need to stand against having its membership wear a piece of safety equipment.

It’s not like there are negatives to wearing a visor. The biggest hindrance would be to goons and designated fighters on teams. But when you consider that some already wear visors and take their helmets off at the start of the fight, it makes the point moot.

And secondly, should we really be pandering to the least talented players on the ice? Fighting is something that the game needs to start phasing out anyway – as evidenced by the Sens’ Dave Dziurzynski getting knocked out and concussed on Wednesday night.

Another complaint is usually that it cuts down on a player’s vision, but I can’t see how. Every player entering the league now and most already playing grew up playing in a minor-league system where you were either wearing a visor or full cage mask. The players are already used to it so what difference would it make to continue wearing a visor?

And really, any person that has played with a visor knows that the difference is negligible.

One way to get around the older players complaining about having this evil contraptions forced on them is to simply grandfather in the rule the same way it worked with helmets – can you believe that players had the option to wear a helmet or not? Say that starting next season, any player entering the league has to wear a visor. That way the vets can keep on chugging without facial protection until their time in the NHL is up.

I understand that the NHLPA is just trying to make sure that their players aren’t forced into anything, especially after the recent lockout, but they are ignoring player safety at the same time. It’s unacceptable to have a league that young kids are watching and trying to emulate completely disregard safety.

This change wouldn’t just help the best ice hockey players in the world stay healthy, it would show kids that it’s alright to play with a visor too. Isn’t that something worth fighting for – not against?

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