The NHL has made it clear that player safety is main concern. In fact, the Board of Governors have already voted to make it mandatory for all players entering the league with less than 25 games played to wear half-shield visors on their helmets.
Then the league did something odd. They voted to put a rule in place that would give an extra two penalty minutes to a player who removes his helmet before a fight. The rule book clearly states that ‘any player who is wearing a visor and instigates a fight will receive an extra minor penalty, unless that player removes it before the fight begins’.
So which is it?
The NHLPA must approve any rule changes that occur. On the “doffing”(intentionally removing the helmet) rule, the result should be a negative. Maybe in a few years after the visor rule is in place for a while, the players will agree to this, but it can’t be both. The combatants have dropped their gloves and expressed their intents. They are trying to inflict damage — why would you want to ruin a fight just to have a hockey game break out?
Most of the time, the guys who brawl don’t wear visors, but in the case of rookies or guys trying to make it back into the starting squad, most do and all will from now on.
If it means players like Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins not missing any games due to broken hands during their rookie seasons, it is good. If it tries to eliminate the dying breed of tough guy who protects his teammates, then it will negatively affect the league, minor leagues, and youth hockey.
All youth players are required to wear shields through junior division leagues, so no one can say that they aren’t used to wearing them so long as they are grandfathering in the players who don’t wear them. Recall when Craig MacTavish was the only player still in the league who had been grandfathered in without wearing a helmet with the St. Louis Blues.
It was that long ago. He didn’t wear any protection, and now he’s in the front office telling players they should wear visors. Even if he didn’t, it would be hypocritical to some fans.