Hate writing this. AGAIN.
But the boss wants it. Hopefully, by being semi-cooperative on this issue, it'll get me off the hook for the Winter Classic next January.
Look, the visor debate always comes off as kind of preachy. Second, we usually talk visors when something bad has happened, which makes it seem opportunistic to bring it up even if, like myself, you think visors should have been made mandatory in the NHL a decade ago.
I've never understood why NHLers love for personal choice doesn't extend to jocks or shinpads, but visors have been the line in the sand for years now. Don Fehr didn't want baseball players drug tested - now baseball players want more testing and harsher penalties! - so it's no surprise that he wasn't pushing hard for it as a health and safety matter during the months that the lockout dragged on.
The NHL and its governors, to be clear, want mandatory visors. That's been the case for upwards of five years. Maybe 10. But the players won't go for it, and so during the lockout, the issue only came up briefly, and it was clear neither side had altered their position.
The NHLPA wants to reserve the right of its players to take a chance. And so we continue down this same ridiculous path.
Here's hoping Marc Staal is okay. The scene of him grabbing his face and thrashing his legs as he lay on the ice Tuesday was just awful. So reminiscent of similar injuries in recent years. There's no update on his condition this morning, so fingers crossed.
This is a player who missed a ton of time due to an injury (concussion) last year. He knows well the dangers of flying pucks and had never played a competitive game without face protection until 2007. He has a brother, Eric, who barely avoided calamity in November, 2011 when hit in the face by a stick, and another brother, Jordan, who plays in the league.
And not one of the Staal brothers wears a visor. How do you rationalize that, particularly at a time when about 70 per cent of NHL players wear them and all juniors and AHL players do as well?
"I like my eyes and I'd like to keep them," was Leaf centre David Steckel's quote on the issue. Jonathan Toews? "I wear a visor because there's no reason no to wear one."
But Marc Staal chose to hit the ice Tuesday night without one. How could his union allow him to jeopardize his career and future earnings? How could the Rangers, who are paying $3.975 million per season to Staal for this year and two more seasons, not insist and insist and insist that such a pivotal player take all precautions against injury?
Nicklas Lidstrom had to endure a serious face injury before putting on a visor after 15 years of playing without one. If Lidstrom could adjust, anyone could. Chris Pronger had to deal with a serious eye injury. Manny Malhotra's career has been derailed. On and on it goes.
Instead of a common sense approach, we have this incident and this debate and this written opinion all over again, just as we did when Bryan Berard was hurt.
Next Wednesday it will have been 13 years since Berard was struck in the eye by Marian Hossa's stick. And not a damn thing has changed.