Thursday, January 10, 2008

In the Blink of an Eye...

I have vague memories of watching hockey as a kid and thinking that Craig MacTavish guy was crazy for not wearing a helmet.

He was the last NHLer (and the only one I can remember) to play without a lid. It blows my mind to think that for many, many years, men played this game without any protection on their heads.

Next step: Visors. It's an on-going debate, and as of now, they are still optional in the NHL. To me, it's as plain and simple as the helmets - they should definitely be mandatory. Of course, there are players who are for them, and players who are against them. Then we have that meathead Don Cherry claiming that players who use them are weak or soft Europeans. I was so angry a while back when Mike Fisher got into that fight where the guy head-butted him, and Grapes had the audacity to say Fisher should have never been in that fight, because it wasn't fair he was wearing a visor. The wuss.

Many guys claim they obstruct their vision on the ice. Well, you know what else can obstruct your vision? A stick in the eye. That's a permanent obstruction, one that I can't believe people risk when they step on the ice without facial protection.

Last night, the issue hit a little too close to home. Baby brother was playing hockey in Shawville in their little 4-team beer league, where of course there are no rules on visors at all. At about 10 PM, the phone rang at home, and it was one of those calls that you just sense there's something wrong. It was Bucky calling to say that someone had to get to the hospital because Luke had been badly cut around his eye.

About 40 stitches around his right eye later, Luke emerged a lucky boy. His eye will be fine, but the scar that will run around it should be a constant reminder of how close he came to being one of those guys who takes a stick in the face and doesn't see ice time ever again. Or anything else, for that matter.

Now, Luke will probably be the first to tell me to get off my soapbox; that it should be a player's decision to wear a visor or not, and that hockey is a dangerous game, with or without a visor. Who knows, maybe the guys stick comes up under the visor and it does even more damage, right?

Or maybe it deflects off the visor, and there's no hospital visit, no scare of losing an eye, and the dude gets a minor penalty for high-sticking. End of story.

So, yeah. I think visors should be mandatory, not only in the NHL, but in any league for that matter. Just as the helmet seems like such an obvious measure of protection, so too should the visor. Then players wouldn't have to worry about being labelled "soft" just because they want to protect their eyes. Everyone would be in the same boat, and certainly the chance of getting a stick or puck in the eye would decrease, which can only be a good thing.

A person's sight is such a precious thing, and taking a gamble with it seems so ridiculous. With one wild swing of a stick, or a puck shot high, it can be gone. Just like that, in the blink of an eye. Why the visor issue hasn't been resolved yet simply baffles me.


Kathleen said...

Hey Jill, glad to hear your brother came out unscathed. I agree with what you wrote about visors but take into consideration that Saku Koivu was wearing a visor when Justin Williams tried to take his eye out and almost succeeded. Red Fisher (a guy who's first assignment was covering the Richard Riot), has been saying since the 70s that players should be wearing full face masks. It does make sense. Visors don't offer that much protection, ask Saku.
And I hate to rush to the defense of Don Cherry but I don't think he was calling Fisher a wimp, just saying that the guy headbutted him out of frustration from having to punch into his visor. I think they should just take their helmets off if they are going to fight. Don Cherry is always drooling over Fisher so I don't think he meant to call him a wimp.

Sharon said...

I agree with you as well Jill. And I hope Luke isn't in too much pain. I know when Wayne got stitches on his hand it was painful, I can just imagine around the eye.

Wayne wears a full caged face mask when he plays on Sunday with the Chainsaws and I am quite happy about that. Someone has already gotten the puck in the jaw from one of the strong shooters... they had no face protection what so ever... or maybe jsut the visor, but that doesn't protect from a broken jaw...

So hopefully... someday they will instate a rule... even for our boys lil' independant tourneys

Sharon said...

P.S. Nice to see that the blog is back.

Jill said...

So we've come to the agreement that full face masks are the way to go; visors don't necessarily cut it. Makes sense to me.
And Kathleen, you're right about Cherry, he does seem to be a Fisher fan, which I guess was why I was surprised when he insinuated that Fisher shouldn't have been surprised at the head-butt 'cause he was wearing a visor. Agreed, fighters who have shields on should have to dump their helmets before they start swinging 'em. But I still hate the fact that Don Cherry equates visors to soft players.
As for Luke, he doesn't seem to be in too much pain, although his eye has yet to open, and it looks pretty grisly. I took pictures last night, but forgot the cable to hook the camera up to the computer, so I can't upload them. For the most part, he's fine & enjoying his time off from work!!

Have a great weekend, everyone!! :)

Kathleen said...

Cherry contradicts himself a lot. He insults guys with visors and then talks about how players like Fisher and Koivu have so much heart and are so tough. Fisher should have taken his helmet off but he's not a fighter and it probably didn't cross his mind.
I can actually tolerate Don Cherry a lot more these days. Believe it or not along with Kelly Hrudey he is one of the only CBC guys who likes Montreal and doesn't insult them every chance he gets. I guess the Leafs misfortunes have humbled him.
Have a good weekend everyone. GO HABS GO!