Visor vote could be nay

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

ATLANTA -- The latest close call with a serious eye injury to a teammate does not appear to be changing the Maple Leafs' attitude towards adopting more eye protection.

Bryan McCabe, the club's player rep, senses the majority of the team are going to make visors an individual choice when they respond to an on-line Players Association survery on the topic this month. The union is not asking for a formal team vote, but clubs such as the Los Angeles Kings took a poll and have expressed opposition to mandatory eye wear.

The Leafs will be without captain Mats Sundin for at least another two weeks after he fractured his lower left orbital bone on Oct. 5.

"For the most part, I think (the Leaf players) will want to make their own decision," McCabe said yesterday when asked what kind of feedback the poll is generating so far in the Toronto room.

"I'm old school. It should be up to what you want to do. But everyone has their own opinion. I know if you talked to Mats, you'd probably get a different story than if you'd asked before the injury."

About a third of the Leafs wear visors.

Defenceman Tomas Kaberle, who doesn't wear a visor, described his feelings as "50-50 now".

and wanted to see the wording of the union's question before deciding. Defenceman Wade Belak, known to drop the gloves now and then, said "put me down as pro-choice. We live in a democracy".

McCabe stressed that should the union reach agreement with the league on compulsory visors, there would be no complaints by the players. There's also the chance visors would be 'grandfathered' as helmets were, giving veterans the option while rookies would have no choice.

"It wouldn't be that big of a deal because everyone has worn one at some point in their careers," McCabe said. "If you have to wear one, so be it."

The Leafs have had many scares with eye injuries going back to Bryan Berard getting blinded accidently by Marian Hossa's stick in 2000.

General manager John Ferguson continues to warn players of the danger.

"We urge all players to use the protection for obvious reasons," he said last week. "It's not a hockey decision, it's a life decision."


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