Point/Counterpoint: Visors

Point/Counterpoint is a new series which argues both sides of a topic relevant to the Philadelphia Flyers. This week, Craig F and frick debate whether or not visors should be mandated in the NHL.

by frick

As pavialax pointed out in her post, wearing visors reduces eye and facial injuries.  While there is a “macho” culture in all sports, including hockey, protecting your assets, and something you need in order to do your job, should not be considered “weak”.  Some may argue that non-visor wearing players will be phased out soon, but the truth is that there are young players just coming into the league, who while wearing visors in juniors, do not wear them in the NHL.

Wearing visors is logical for the league, teams and players.  It makes sense for the league in many ways – chief among them, the possibility of losing a player for a long period of time, or even cutting a career short.

What if Alex Ovechkin did not wear a visor, and suffered an injury like Ian Laperriere did? The league loses one of its best players to an injury that could have been avoided or, at the least, lessened.  The NHL is primarily a business, and losing any asset, for any reason, is a bad thing for a business.  This is the same for the individual teams.

If a player is taken out by any injury, it affects the business side of the game.  Maybe the team has to figure out financial moves (the cap, paying a player to be on IR or LTIR), and even perhaps a decline in ticket sales or jersey sales, depending on how popular the player.  Financially, it makes sense to do everything possible to protect your assets/employees, and visors are a way to protect the players.  Hey, if they can put a clause in a player’s contract not to go snowboarding, then why not wearing visors?

Finally, it should make sense to the player to wear a visor.  They work so hard to get to the NHL, why waste a career on an injury that could be avoided?  Why risk sight, which some people would argue is one of the most important senses?  There is life after the NHL, where most players have families/kids, so why risk not being able to watch them grow up? Not being able to see?  All things that can be avoided/lessened by attaching a piece of plastic to a helmet.

by Craig F

Visors are a logical way to alleviate eye and facial injuries across the league, but they don’t eliminate all injuries to the face. Pucks and sticks will still find ways to hit the facial area just like players still get concussions despite the fact every player in the league now wears a helmet.

It would be illogical to think visors wouldn’t help avoid several devastating injuries, but it’s also illogical to think injuries to the eyes or face will disappear just because a player has a piece of plastic on the front of his helmet — just look at the example of Daniel Paille in last night’s Bruins-Islanders game.

Most of the players in the league today wear visors, but there is a reason why a handful of players don’t have one: they don’t want to wear a visor. This is the main reason why players wear visors in Juniors and then don’t wear them in the NHL. Visors relate to a player’s comfort level. Many players don’t like visors because they fog up or sweat trickles down the visor and impedes their vision. As a player who has reached the pinnacle of their competitive job market, they should be able to decide whether or not they’d like play the game without altered vision.

The main response to that would be it shouldn’t be a choice since it can result in the end of their career or they could possibly be blinded. I am in no means the “macho” or “no wussy stuff” type, but if the league is going to start regulating rules based on that mentality, the NHL will quickly look like my third grade gym class where checking wasn’t allowed while we played with plastic sticks and yarn balls. Both Freddy Meyer and Ondrej Pavelec collapsed on ice last year for the Atlanta Thrashers, should the league imply a no movement rule because hockey may induce a player to collapse?

Every job comes with danger and the person completing the job should be able to handle that danger the way they feel most comfortable. If a player feels they are at less risk playing without a visor, by all means let him play without a visor.

There are several things you could critique in the game of hockey if you’d like to eliminate a lot of the injuries. If the league is tired of broken hands, jaws, and potential concussions, the league should eliminate fighting, something that gains the NHL a lot of recognition. If the league is tired of broken feet and deep bruises all over a player’s body, tell players to quit causing traffic in front of the net and to quit blocking shots, the main ways to score and deny scoring.

These are all things that have taken players out of the game and cost the league, as well as that player’s team, money and revenue. Sounds a bit extreme, but these are safety precautions that do protect the players and keep them in the lineup.