Klesla took a puck to the face early this season. He missed several games as a result of the damage the frozen biscuit will do to your face. Rozsival took one in the preseason that caused him to miss the start of the regular season games. Langkow took three off his face that caused him to miss time. And finally, Klesla getting the stick butt in the eye versus Chicago. Put aside the selfish notion that the team needs these players in the lineup at all times. It is about player safety. It is about what your face will look like and how it will perform when you are no longer playing. It is about players like Manny Malhotra of the Canucks. He took a puck in the eye during the 09-10 playoffs and was in serious danger of losing his eye. His career would have been over, his life permanently changed. All because he didn’t wear a visor.
Against Chicago, Rozsival was boarded behind his own goal. His face was smashed against the glass. As he lay motionless on the ice, you start to think about the impact of a rushing player against a static force. You think of the masses colliding against the glass, providing not just resistance but an immovable object. The force is absorbed by Roszival. And his head against the glass. His leg starts to move, his toes being kicked into the ice. As he starts to get to his knees, Jason Serbic is there to help. Later, we find out he cannot chew properly as he has stitches inside his mouth. Many days later, Roszival is still sipping liquids.
The NHLPA has decried that cages are only to be worn in the event of injury. The thought is that if you protect the face with a cage, you will get sticks to the cages that would make Glen Featherstone proud. So, when you see someone like Rusty Klesla come onto the ice with a cage this playoff run, or Ed Jovanoski did last year after he suffered an orbital bone fracture as his face hit an Atlanta Thrasher player’s helmet.
From a league standpoint, they have decided that the advertising will be around players and not teams. Crobsy, Ovechkin, Malkin, Toews, Kane to name a few. They are the stars of every tv commercial. When they are out of the lineup, there is the potential for tv viewership to be down. And tv revenue is the lifeblood of a professional sporting league. You know what? Every one of those players wears a shield. Shane Doan wears a shield. He has shown his toughness time and time again. Has it hurt his play? NO.
Ray Whitney wears a shield. Does it prevent his passing and scoring touch? No.
The question becomes, why would you not wear a visor? We know you are tough, you made it to the most elite level of hockey on earth. The visors made by Oakley are not only beautiful but also provide protection against the inadvertent stick or puck to the eye. It does not affect your ability to get air to your nose or mouth. When you look down, the bottom of the visor does not distort the puck or ice surface. If you are a fighter, you can rip the visor off or just remove your helmet. You are no help to your team when you are in the locker room getting stitched up from a stick to the bridge of the nose. Your team is skating a man down until you come back to the ice. And if you were sporting these eyes, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to keep them?