Thursday, October 06, 2005

The first casualty of this year's Battle

Even though he's the captain of the Leafs, and I guess I'm supposed to be thrilled, I think it really sucks that Mats Sundin got hurt the way he did last night. Now with their captain out for four to six weeks with a broken orbital bone, the Leafs, a team already considered to be on the outside looking in by many, have their work cut out for them. The rest of the team pulled it together last night and maybe even used it as motivation, but that won't sustain itself.

This of course makes the visor discussion relevant again. Here is an injury that absolutely could've been avoided had Sundin been wearing a shield. At worst, he would've gotten a little shook up by the puck to the visor, but in all likelyhood, wouldn't have even missed a shift. Instead, he's out until November.

In the case of Sundin, it has to be especially frustrating to Leafs fans because he's had eye injuries in the past. Wouldn't he have learned by now? Nevermind the fact that he, and many other Leafs, witnessed first hand what happened to their teammate Bryan Berard, who still has vision problems to this day because he was being macho and not doning a visor.

Unfortunately, a lot of Leafs fans have themselves to partially blame for Sundin not wearing a shield. Many (most of whom belonging to a certain demographic, which thankfully means they'll be dying off soon) have created a culture that equates a visor to being a pussy. It's already tough enough for a European to be captain of a Canadian team. One with a visor? In Toronto? With Don Cherry and his minions who have the local sports talk radio station on their speed dial breathing down your neck?

How long until the league does something about this? Don't give me that tired old excuse about these are grown men and they should be allowed to make that decision. That didn't stop anyone from forcing helmets on players, a move I imagine was met with as much skepticism back then as mandatory visors are now from the "traditionalists". Looking back, most of us think it was crazy they didn't always wear them.

If I'm an NHL owner and I've invested hundreds of millions of dollars of my money into a franchise, you can bet I'd take this into my own hands if the NHL continued to be as slow to respond. I'd make sure most of my players, and especially guys like Sundin who are major pieces of the puzzle, have clauses in their contracts that force them to wear visors. In the case of a guy who's expected to fill the enforcer need, maybe I'd make an exception, but besides that, you'd have to have it. If you don't want to, find somewhere else to play.

This foolishness has to stop. I wouldn've thought the aforementioned Berard incident would've been the wake up call the league and it's players needed, but here we are five years later, and little has changed. Discussions about visors being mandatory are maybe more prominent than they were then, but it still hasn't amounted to any sort of reform. It's sad to say, but maybe it will take a guy losing his vision, or worse, for some of these yahoos to wake up.

By the way, it looks like the injury bug is sweeping the league, as, after one game, two of my fantasy team guys are already on the IR. D'oh.

3 Comments:

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Dominic Plouffe said...

Pierre McGuire said it best this morning on the team 1200. You wouldn't catch a player not wearing a jock would you?

Not to diminish the family jewels in anyway, but my eyes are one of the most important part of my body. I just seems stupid not to protect them.

I played once without a visor, I got a 20 stitch cut under my right eye. Never again will I play without a full cage.

But hey, who am I to judge them. I'm sure if I was a 20 something year old stud millionaire with female groupees I'd do the same! ;)

 
At 11:01 PM, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The difference between wearing a jock or helmet and a visor is that the visor actually impedes one's vision. It's certainly not impossible to play with a shield on, but if a guy has been wearing one for years, it'll be a difficult adjustment.

I know I was always scared shitless a deflected puck would get me when I played without one — I guess I'm a wussy though.

 
At 12:53 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

The players have only themselves to blame for the fact that the adjustment would be difficult though. The majority of the players in the league now were forced to where them in junior or where ever they played before turning pro.

As for a visor making a player inferior, last season, 19 of the top 30 scorers in the league wore shields. Can't be that much of a problem.

 

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