March 9, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis (26) skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Use of Visors: Will This Make A Viable Impact on Player Safety?

One of the most hot button issues that is being discussed between the decision makers in the National Hockey League is implementing the mandatory use of a visor by any player having less played less than 26 games going into the 2013-14 season. The real question is, will this change make a viable impact on player safety?

There are people on both sides of the topic; some call the move unnecessary, and others believe that this is a smart move on the part of the league.

While arguments can be made on both sides in regards to visors, I think any player choosing not to use a visor is completely insane. In support of this assertion, I give to you two examples:

1. During the 2011-12 season, while in practice Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis took a puck to the face from an errant backhanded shot from teammate Dominic Moore missed the net connecting with St. Louis just above his right eye. As a result, St. Louis suffered a broken nose and fractured his orbital bone, negatively affecting his vision. Because of this injury, St. Louis was forced to miss what would have been his 500th straight NHL game.

Now don’t get me wrong, an accident is still an accident. Sometimes, things are just not preventable. However, had there been a visor present, there is a possibility that the damage may not have been as severe. The visor could have served to absorb some of the impact, lessening the impact on the bones. Granted, there still would have been some form of injury, but maybe not to the extent of affecting his vision.

2. On April 13th, 2013 as the Tampa Bay Lightning faced off with the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Lightning center Nate Thompson, whether intentionally in an attempt to block the shot, or completely on accident, took the full force of Caps defenseman Mike Green’s slapshot just above his right eye, send him tumbling to the ice and shattering his visor into pieces. As a result, Thompson needed eight stiches to be able to repair the damage.

In case you missed this incident the first time, you can see everything that went down in the video below.

Fair warning: there is a lot of blood after Thompson takes the shot to the face. If you are squeamish about blood, I advise you not watch the video. Video is courtesy of SB Nation.


Now, I want you to think about what may have been had Thompson had not been wearing a visor. Based on the condition that his visor was left in, I can only imagine the damage that could have been done to Thompson’s face, or even more so, his eyes. While unable to prevent all damage, one could definitely argue that the damage could have been substantially worse.

I also pose to you the fact that there are players in the NHL, like Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who can shoot the puck upside of 100 miles per hour. Let that sink in for a second…a 1 inch thick, 3 inches in diameter piece of ice cold, rock hard, vulcanized rubber flying at your face at 100 miles per hour.

I think the bigger questions is: who wouldn’t want something in between that and their face?

Where do you stand on the issue of mandatory visors for new players coming into the NHL? Do you think that it should be up to the discretion of the player as it has in the past, or do you think the mandate has a viable impact on player safety? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.


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Tags: Martin St Louis Nate Thompson NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

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