Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hockey: Optional Equipment - Visor Edition

There's been a lot of debate recently over making visors mandatory in the NHL.  This is fairly normal after witnessing someone get injured.  You could probably accurately guess the timing of the tsunami of articles written about requiring visors after every notable player has been struck in one of his peepers by a puck or stick at 25 minutes after the event. 

This happens every few years: Bryan Berad, Manny Maholtra, and now Marc Staal.  There's a great (and absolutely gross) write up at Puck, that Hurts! showing the aftermath and discussing eye injuries.

That brings up one of the first times I was watching a hockey game with my wife back when we were dating and she was finishing up optometry school, she would occasionally ask a question about a play or a tactic but wouldn't scream at the TV.

Until they showed a closeup of a hockey player when she suddenly yelled, "WHY AREN'T YOU WEARING A VISOR YOU STUPID MAN!?"

So, uh, tell me how do you really feel about visors?

I do understand the NHLPA's rationale for allowing each player to choose if they want to wear one.  So, in the spirit of helping everyone feel comfortable, much like the New York Ranger's "Dress like Pirate Day" to help Marc Staal and eye-patch feel more at home, this post will break down some of the excuses for wearing a visor and follow those up with some snarky response that I'd never say to the face of NHLer because they could fold me up and put me in a trash can.

Excuse 1:  I want to fight without removing my helmet because that opens me up to a possible head injury if my head hits the ice.

Rebuttal: From a probabilistic point of view, there is a much higher likelihood of being punched in the face with another man's bare knuckles than your head bouncing on the ice.  Within the context of the profession - there's a chance of stick and puck injuries on every shift and even while on the bench.  But, since fights aren't staged, there's no real guarantee that you're going to get into one, let alone get smoked so bad you fall backwards semi-unconscious.  Unless your name is Eric Selleck.

This is laughable logic, at best.  'I don't want to get a head injury in a fight because I was wearing a visor and had to take my helmet off.'

Excuse 2:  I don't want to hinder my vision with a visor.
Rebuttal: So you don't want to impair your vision like the 95% of the top 20 scorers in the league?  Outside of Getzlaf, they all wear visors. Of the top 25 scorers only Ryan Getzlaf (7) and Christ Stewart (23) do not wear visors.   Granted these are two of the guys excitedly pointing to excuse number 1, as if that makes it okay.

Excuse 3: No really, I don't want to hinder my vision and open myself up to blindside hits like Crosby being blindsided by Steckel?
Rebuttal:  Have you seen the hit?   Neither did either person actually involved in it.  Well, not really.  This looked to be somewhere between incidental contact and deliberate interference trying to look like incidental contact.  I chose this one because it's so well known, not because it's the best example of a blindside hit.  And also because if I type "Steckel hit" Google auto fills in Crosby.

Excuse 3 - I don't want to change my equipment
Rebuttal:  A majority of league is wearing visors and they're required at all levels below the NHL so this will filter itself out of the league within the next ten years.

The league can't require visors and the Union probably won't accept any mandate from the league.  So that leaves the best solution out there is to get the player's mom's involved.  And it's proven: Thank you Mrs. Staal for raising the number of NHLers who endorse visors.

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