Wednesday, May 21, 2008


For as long as I've followed hockey, I've never understood why NHL players were so resistant to using visors to protect their eyes from serious injury.

Every time I see something happen involving a facial injury, I wonder even more.

To the right is Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn, who took a puck to the face in Game Two of Philadelphia's series with Pittsburgh. He didn't return for the rest of the series. Combined with the loss of Kimmo Timonen, who didn't play until Game Five because of a blood clot, it crippled Philly's defense.

Movements to make visors or face shields mandatory have been met with enough resistance to stop them. However, there are some within hockey who believe that it's only a matter of time.

Quoting from Adam Proteau's Hockey News blog, Greg Wyshynski notes a very solid point made by AHL commissioner Dave Andrews:
"I don't think there's any reason for a player to take (a visor) off," said Andrews, whose league made visors mandatory for its players at the start of the 2006-07 season. "Every player now turning professional...whether they come from Europe, NCAA or major junior, has been wearing a visor, and to play without one is to consciously take it off."
I am of the "the sooner, the better" attitude here. Coburn's injury was absolutely avoidable, and I fail to understand why so many players don't realize this. They choose to stop wearing a face shield, and in doing so, they put themselves at incredible risk of a career-altering or career-ending injury.

This isn't about the impact of Coburn's loss on the Flyers' ability to beat Pittsburgh. It's about Coburn's injury, and the potential such an injury has to change a young player's career. Coburn is lucky he will be able to recover and play this fall. His injury should have little impact on his future. However, it has happened before (just ask Bryan Berard), and it will probably happen again if something isn't done.

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