Mandatory Visor Use In The NHL?

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How Long Before Visor Use Isn’t Optional in The NHL?

Mandatory visor use was front and center again Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. We were once again reminded of the ongoing talk and debate about mandatory visor use in an unfortunate way. Winnipeg Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom teed up a slapshot from the point that hit Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn in the side of the head. Schenn was cut and required stitches above the right eye but he was OK and returned later and finished the game. Ironically Schenn does wear a visor.

During the recently held NHL General Managers meetings, the one rule change that was talked about and could be changed is the mandatory use of visors. Colin Campbell, the NHL Director of Hockey Operations, said players currently not wearing visors will not be forced to do so but new players could be required to use them as soon as next season. Just before the GM meetings, New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal’s facial injury caused by a puck to the face made the visor debate a hot topic again. Right now, 73% of NHL players voluntarily wear visors, so Mathieu Schneider, an NHLPA Executive, said “we’re definitely going to look at talking to the guys about grandfathering them in.”


Former Coyote Peter Mueller with Visor

You would think that this wouldn’t be a problem because players are required to wear visors in junior leagues across Canada as well as in the American Hockey League. However, as players graduate into the NHL they can choose whether or not to wear one. NHL players don’t like being told what to do as it pertains to their level of comfort on the ice. Some players believe that wearing a visor inhibits their on-ice vision.

The visor debate is lessening as every year goes by, but the one group of players that don’t necessarily want to see mandated visor use are the players that fight in the NHL. This brings into play Rule 46.6 which penalizes players for fighting while wearing a visor. With 73% of players now wearing visors, this rule will need to be looked at by the Competition Committee.

I was never required to wear a visor when I played hockey back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I would not dare preach what a player today should or should not wear! I understand that owners want to protect their investment and ultimately they are the bosses. To draw a parallel, parents sometimes do what they believe is best for their children for their own protection. This may be one of those instances.

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