An Ounce of Prevention
Sure was nasty watching the fine young Philadelphia defenceman, Braydon Coburn, take a puck in the face Sunday night in Game 2 between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
He was cut badly near the eye, and may or may not be able to play in Game 3.
Surely, it could have been worse.
Yet wasn't it also preventable?
Given where the injury was, it would appear a half-shield would have blocked the puck from hitting Coburn in the face. But he doesn't wear one, and so he was lost for the game, and maybe more.
Given that the Flyers were already without Kimmo Timmonen, losing their second best puck mover on defence was a huge hindrance. The Philly power play struggled mightily, although it worked once, and by the third period it was painful to watch Derian Hatcher, Jason Smith, Randy Jones and Jaroslav Modry try mightily but unsuccessfully to move the puck up ice.
Coburn, clearly, would have made a difference. Who knows, maybe a winning difference in a game in which the Flyers clearly had a chance to win.
Now players get hurt, that we know. But if a simple piece of equipment like a visor would allow a team in the conference final to be more competitive, wouldn't it stand to reason that the team would require the athlete in question to wear the protective equipment?
People try to make visors a macho thing, something that tough guys don't wear, or a sign of a sport that doesn't have the same mutual respect between players it once did (which is utter baloney, by the way).
But a deflected puck is an accident. It's not about manhood or toughness. It only makes sense in an industry in which millions and millions of dollars are at stake to have top players protected against such accidents.
If Coburn can't play the rest of this series and the Flyers lose, will it have made any sense at all that a 23-year-old hockey player who would have worn facial protection from the first time he stepped on to an ice rink until 2005 was able to do the "manly" thing and not wear one in the NHL?