Tuesday, the NHL's competition committee announced it will recommend to the league's board of governors and the NHLPA to approve the mandatory use of visors for any players who enter the NHL next season or have fewer than 26 games of NHL experience. (A player must have played fewer than 26 NHL games to officially be considered a rookie by the NHL.) The votes by the governors and the NHLPA are considered formalities.
The league will allow "grandfather" status for players already in the league who do do not wear visors.
In the aftermath to the gruesome eye injury suffered by Rangers defenseman Mark Staal earlier this season, the league took action. But is it the right action? Should players still have the freedom to wear a visor or not? And is there a stigma off being "soft" attached to players who still wear visors?
Yesterday, members of the Penguins and Bruins addressed those questions.
What was your reaction to the competition committee's recommend making visors mandatory for anyone entering the league next season?
Brandon Sutter, Penguins center (wears visor) - "I think it’s smart. I don’t see the reason why guys don’t wear one now. You see some of the eye injuries that have happened. I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s an extra piece of protection. I think you wear it once or twice, you don’t even know its there. I think it’s a good thing."
Milan Lucic, Bruins left winger (no visor) - "Obvously there’s some things that have happened with guys getting injury and getting hit in the eye area. I don’t wear it because the choice is there. I’m for pro-choice but I’m not going to disagree with any decision that the competition committee makes."
Mark Eaton, Penguins defenseman (no visor) - "I’m for that. I don’t think you can force guys who have played for a while without them to put them on. But with everything that has happened over the last few years with eye injuries and what not, I think it’s a good move. The AHL, it’s been mandatory down there. The majority of young guys nowadays have worn it and are used to. It’s the time to do it."
Sidney Crosby, Penguins center (wears a visor) - "I agree with it. It makes a lot of sense. At this point, that’s what we’re wearing growing up and coming into the league. I think it makes a lot of sense."
Daniel Paille, Bruins center (wears a visor) - "I think it’s something they’ve been pushing for a long time. More than half the league wears visors now. I think it’s going to get bigger as other players come [into the league]. Junior clubs are enforcing it more and now guys are wearing it in the AHL. It’s not really a big issue to a lot of players. The players that wouldn’t want to wear one, they’re going to get used to it."
Craig Adams, Penguins, right winger (no visor) - "If that’s the way the guys voted, that’s obviously we’re going to go. Personally, that’s not my vote but I’m only one person."
Torey Krug, Bruins, defenseman (wears a visor) - "My first experiences of pro hockey, I had to wear a visor in the AHL. I never really though anything of it. I think it’s good for the game."
Brenden Morrow, Penguins left winger (no visors) - "I suppose I would agree with it. All the young players playing with it growing up are used to it so might as well keep it on."
Chris Kelly, Bruins right winger (wears a visor) - "It used to be about helmets and people quickly start putting those one. I wear a visor. A lot of guys wear visors. I didn’t when I started. All it takes is one puck to the eye and you quickly get scared. That’s why I put one on. Guys are going to do what they feel helps them. If they feel not wearing a visor is going to bring them success or wearing a visor is going to put their mind at ease, they’re going to do that. There’s a lot of tough guys who wear visors and handle themselves. "
Is there still a stigma against guys who wear visors?
Dan Bylsma, Penguins coach - "I don’t’ think there’s a stigma to wearing a visor anywhere close to where it used to be. I don’t know how far back you’d have to go back for that. I don’t think it’s there at all. A great portion of these players that are coming into our league and have been in our league the last five years grew up with a visor. It’s not anything new for them to have a visor on. There’s no stigma, there’s not attachment to wearing a visor. It thought it was inevitable. I’m glad to see it in there."
Paille - "Over time, the game has changed a lot. In short, no. I know [the idea] that tough guys don’t wear visors and stuff like that but you can always take off your helmet if you want to fight someone. It’s not a big issue."
Eaton - No. I don’t think so. Just because you want to protect your eyes and what not doesn’t mean you’re not tough. Not that I’m a tough guy but I don’t see it that way.
Lucic (above) - "I think that’s long gone that perception that guys who wear visors are soft."
Crosby - "I don’t think so. I don’t think that way. I can’t speak for others but I don’t see it. [Iginla] is a pretty tough guy and he wears a visor. I don’t really see that."
Claude Julien, Bruins coach - "There is no stigma. I’m proud and encourage players to wear visors. I’m one of those guys that really believes that when a young player comes up playing minor hockey with a visor and he’s used to it, why take it off? I know there’s been some accidents with a visor but there’s been more incidents saved by the visor. It’s like a seatbelt in a car. To me, it’s a good thing that they’re encouraging the visor that’s being grandfathered in. I believe in it."
Sutter - "I think that’s long gone. There’s probably a lot of guys around the league who are some of the most physical guys in the league that still wear visors. It’s not nothing to do with toughness by any means. It’s just being smart. I don’t think anyone wants to take a puck or a stick in the eye. I think your definitely smart to have it on."
Morrow - "No. I think once they got rid of the instigator rule, that kind of went with it. There’s still some codes I guess, unwritten rules which guys abide by."
Kelly - "If you look at all the other leagues, it’s mandatory to wear a visor. Guys coming up through junior and coming up through the pro levels, they have to wear a visor. It’s something they’re used to. It’s something [the league is] grandfathering in. Guys who are playing right now have a decision to make. I don’t really have any issue with it."
(Photos: Crosby-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Lucic-Claus Andersen/Getty Images)