Common sense or: Why players should learn to stop being foolish and love the visor

Marc Stall has already had to deal with one concussion in his career and he may now be facing another. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

Marc Stall has already had to deal with one concussion in his career and he may now be facing another. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Tim Kolupanowich

@TimKolupan_

I’ve always been a visual learner. Graphs, charts, pictures, videos, I’ve always felt it’s easier to understand a point when you can see it. That’s why, in light of Marc Staal’s eye injury last night, I won’t be writing yet another long-winded essay making the case for mandatory visors in the NHL. Rather, here are some visual aids to show just how common and scary eye injuries are.

Here is a CBC Feature on Bryan Berard’s injury, one of the most famous cases in recent memory. Slashed by Marian Hossa’s follow through on a shot, Berard nearly lost his right eye in the incident.

Berard put a visor on once he was able to come back, but the damage was done.

Here’s a video on Ian Laperriere who took a shot off the face diving to block a shot in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. One of the most fearless players in his day, Lappy was also one of the game’s great people and became an instant fan favorite his only season in Philadelphia. That’s why it’s so hard to hear him talk about whether or not he still had his eye and the damage done to his brain.

Laperriere missed 10 games and when he returned, he wore a visor for the rest of his career. All eight games of it.

A teammate of Laperriere’s that season, Chris Pronger suffered a horrific injury that has all but ended his career early last season when he was hit with the stick of Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski.

It’s disheartening to hear a warrior like Pronger screaming in agony like that. Even worse than hearing that is reading what his wife Lauren had to say about dealing with the concussion symptoms stemming from the incident. Like Laperriere, Pronger put on a visor for all of the remaining five games of his career.

From captain to captain, Steve Yzerman was one of the best players in history, but even he wasn’t immune to flying pucks. A shot from Mathieu Schneider deflected during Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference semifinal, striking Yzerman in the left eye.

The image of his eye after the shot is pretty gruesome and he played one more season after that, wearing a visor. He came to that decision rather quickly, saying afterwards:

Sitting in the hospital that night, I really wish I’d been wearing a visor. I played 21 years and never had an eye injury…The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘I don’t want to lost my eyesight.’ I really believe guys should be wearing them. I didn’t say that a week ago.

It’s not just pucks either. Although skate blades tend to stay far away from the mugs of players, the two occasionally meet, most often with horrifying consequences. Travis Moen was cut in 2010 by the skate of Matt Cullen.

A gash ran from his forehead across his left eyelid making him look like a Walking Dead extra. He didn’t end up going to the hospital, but that was purely luck as he was millimeters away from losing his eye.

The glass can also cause damage. Here’s Darryl Boyce falling seemingly innocently into the boards in February of 2011 against Carolina.

And here’s what he looked like in the hospital later that night (Warning: Do NOT click on that link. Seriously, you’ll regret it, it’s gross. You probably shouldn’t click on this one either.) after his nostril was ripped in half. A visor would have taken most of the impact and left him a little less deformed. Although since those images are what he’ll be remembered for the rest of his life, maybe it’s just as well for him he left it off.

Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos actually does wear a visor and here is a great video of him demonstrating just how useful they can be in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference final.

As you can see, the puck hits him right between the eyes, but the visor saves him from serious damage as all he has when he returns is a gash on his nose. It could easily have been a whole lot worse.

Here’s another case of a visor taking the brunt of a shot instead of someone’s face as Daniel Paille took a Steve Staios shot to the face in November of last season.

Paille missed three games, but it could have been a lot worse; his bloody helmet and visor can attest to that.

Steven Stamkos has shown how useful a visor can be and that wearing it doesn't diminish one's performance.(Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

Steven Stamkos has shown how useful a visor can be and that wearing it doesn’t diminish one’s performance.(Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

There are many more players whose careers ended because of eye injuries. Al MacInnis, Manny Malhotra, promising youngster Glen Sharpley and Jeff Libby who actually lost his eye are but a few of the many others who have suffered preventable injuries in their careers.

Unfortunately, many feel they’ll be perceived as cowardly if they attach a visor, but in all seriousness, how tough can someone look laying in a dark room with headaches for days, weeks, even months on end? Eddie Shore’s toughness is legendary and he wore a helmet when the idea of head protection was largely unfathomable. And it can’t be about comfort, at least for the young players who have to wear at least a visor if not a full cage from the time they start in minor hockey through major junior/college and even in the minor leagues now. Eye protection is crucial, especially for life after hockey.

Whether it’s the players, the league or the individual teams who make the decision (Pronger was going to wear a visor whether he wanted to or not upon his return. A moot point now it shows the Flyers were going to protect their biggest asset.)someone needs to smarten up. As Lauren Pronger proves, it’s not just the players who have to suffer the consequences of a major injuries, it’s their family and friends who face the darkness too.

Now, for those who watched all the videos and looks at the pictures, you’re probably feeling pretty squeamish right now and for that I apologize. Here’s a basket of puppies to make up for that drop in your stomach and lump in your throat.

Cute_dogs

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