I know its a personal choice, but for me it was an easy one. I wanted to save my eyes; thats pretty much it.
That was Columbus Blue Jackets winger Nick Foligno, explaining in the simplest terms his choice to wear a visor when he plays hockey. For him, its all about trying to avoid a catastrophic eye injury that in most cases is avoidable if a visor is worn.
My eyes are something Ill never get back, said Foligno. You can get injured or cut just about anywhere else, but your eyes are the most important thing, and I cant imagine not doing something to protect them. And as much as you play physical, there are so many things you cant control in a game, like sticks and pucks. You know, just that one split second that maybe youre turned the wrong way, and you dont have a visor on, those things can hit you. Youve seen that in the past, and Id hate to be the one that has that happen because I didnt wear a visor.
The visor debate is raging again in the NHL, after New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was hit by a deflected puck around the right eye earlier this week, in New Yorks win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. According to reports, Staal was showing improvement, and doctors were optimistic about a full recovery.
For Foligno, who plays a physical game and does a lot of his work in the trenches near the opposition net or along the boards, its unfathomable for him to play the way he does without a visor.
You know what, its always been just a safety thing for me, he explained. I respect guys that dont wear one, dont get me wrong, but I think its a crazy thing because I know what happens in front of the net. For where I play, I feel like that visors actually saved me more times than not from sticks in front of the net. Even against the boards, you know your visor hits first, thank goodness; otherwise, youre getting a nice shiner around your eyes or damage to your nose.
I understand some guys, for whatever reason, find they dont see the ice as well with a visor on, he went on. I get that, but for me it was an easy decision, and I would hope that a lot of guys would put em on.
Does Foligno have any issues seeing through his visor when hes on the ice?
Not at all, he said. Id probably feel a little bit weird now not having one. Id feel more exposed. Any guy now, looking at what just happened to Marc Staal and some guys in the past, it makes you think twice. I just think visors could save players a lot of worry and grief during the season.
While the Blue Jackets first-year forward is definitely in the pro-visor corner, he made it clear hes not speaking for anyone else.
I know a lot of guys who dont wear one, guys in this room, and I understand both sides, I get that. But for me, its a personal decision, and I cant really speak on behalf of anyone else. I just couldnt imagine having something happen to me and wishing I had put one on. Thats my reason for wearing one; I dont know what theirs is for not wearing a visor, but I respect their choice.
Ironically, former Columbus Blue Jackets center and fan favorite Manny Malhotra was at Nationwide Arena this week with his current team, the Vancouver Canucks. Malhotra was recently put on injured reserve for the rest of the season by the Canucks, a move directly related to damage he suffered when he took a deflected puck to his left eye two years ago. In the wake of that injury, and this weeks injury to Staal, Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin told The Province in British Columbia that its time visors became mandatory for new players entering the NHL. Foligno agrees the time has come to discuss a visor mandate seriously.
I think its something they should look into, I really do, he noted. Its not something thats going to hurt the league or hurt anybody; its only going to help guys. Its not anything thats going to drastically change the game, thats for sure. Its something that we can definitely look into. My only worry is then do guys with visors start getting reckless with sticks? But, as I said, you hate seeing a guy go down, especially a friend like Marc Staal, and wishing there was a simpler way of maybe just avoiding that by having a visor on.