SUN Hockey Pool

Should the NHL make visors mandatory?

Flyers captain Chris Pronger falls to the ice after being hit in the eye by a stick during a game...

Flyers captain Chris Pronger falls to the ice after being hit in the eye by a stick during a game against the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., Oct. 24, 2011. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images/AFP)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 PM ET

CALGARY - Niklas Hagman knows his decision to not wear a visor is nonsensical.

Yet, the Calgary Flames winger keeps playing without the protection.

"I have no good reason not to. When I wear one, it doesn't bother me at all, but for some reason, I take it off," Hagman said Wednesday. "To be honest, I should have one. I've got two eyes and have two kids and want to see them. It would be the smart thing to do, so I don't know why I don't."

The visor discussion becomes hot and heavy every year when a NHL player is injured by an errant high stick or puck to the face.

It's already happened this season, when Philadelphia Flyers captain Chris Pronger was injured Monday night when Mikhail Grabovski's stick caught him in the face.

Fortunately, Pronger is expected to make a full recovery without vision loss and return in a few weeks.

Only 10 of the 21 forwards on the current Flames roster wear visors, below the league average of 68%, according to figures released by the NHLPA.

"To me, it's really a no-brainer," said Flames centre Brendan Morrison, who wears a visor. "You're talking about your vision. Nobody ever intends to high-stick a guy, but there's a chance, so why not take away some risk if you can and protect yourself?

"If guys are saying it's to prove your tough, why not go and play without a cup on? That's tough. But why doesn't anyone play without a jock? Because it's stupid.

"I think the old-school mentality was that soft guys played with visors or European guys played with visors, but that's old-school thinking. I think we're much more aware and much more cognisant of safety in the game these days, especially with concussions at the forefront, but over the course of my career, there have been three, four, five, six guys who have had pretty serious eye injuries. My reasoning is to mitigate risk."

Still, there are those who don't plan to wear a visor as long as it's their call.

David Moss has gone back and forth with a visor, taking it off for good a couple of seasons ago.

"I feel more comfortable without one. I feel I can see better. It's my decision," Moss said.

And the Pronger incident can't sway him.

"I think it makes your family more worried than you are," he said. "Knock on wood those accidents are rare, and you don't want it to happen, and I know visors may prevent it, but we're grown men and can make a decision."

Defenceman Mark Giordano is in the same camp, although he acknowledges there may be a time players will be forced to wear visors.

"I think it's just an individual choice. As far as I go, my biggest issue with visors is in the middle of shifts when you get snow or water or spray on it, and having to adjust to it in the middle of a shift," he said. "In saying that, I have played with one before, in Russia, the world championships, and I know you can get used to it."

It was easy for Lee Stempniak, who wore a cage in university and was encouraged to wear a visor as a rookie with the St. Louis Blues.

"Sure enough, in my first day of practice -- first intra-squad game -- I took a stick right between the eyes. It would have cut me open, but it caught me in the visor. I've never thought about it since."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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