After Laperriere horror show, should NHL make visors mandatory?

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Laperriere.jpgEverytime I see a player take a puck to the face or a stick to the
eye, just inches from a brutal and career-ending injury, I wonder
exactly why these players aren’t wearing a visor. I understand that
hockey is supposed to be a “man’s game” and that everytime we attempt to
add to the safety of the game there are some who are concerned that we
are taking away the toughness of the sport.

Not so. This is about protecting a player’s well being after
he is done playing hockey. Ian Laperriere, dropping down to block a shot
and getting hit in the face with a puck, could have easily lost an eye.
We want better head-shot rules to protect players now so they have a
decent life after they are finished with the NHL, as head injuries can
take years to really affect a person’s health.

After seeing Laperriere bleeding profusely on the ice, asking
trainers if he still had his eye, I immediately asked myself “should the
NHL make wearing visors mandatory?”. If the NHL is truly concerned
about player’s safety, although they’ve yet to really act on changing
the game to match their public concern, then perhaps requiring all
players to wear visors would be a logical next step.

Laperriere says that this was a tough lesson to learn, and that he
was “stupid” for not wearing one before. If you want to see the
aftermath of the injury, and to hear what Laperriere had to say after
the game, here’s the first part of his post-game interview:

After the jump, we look at whether mandatory visors is a good idea or
not.

The issue with making visors mandatory is the backlash coming from
the established players in the NHL. For those that choose not to wear
them there are various reasons they have for forgoing the safety of the
visor: comfort, visibility, etc. Some are just so used to not wearing
them after so many years, they’re worried they won’t be the same if they
suddenly attach a visor to their helmet.

What is interesting is how after facial injuries, players that are
forced to wear cages and/or visors while healing immediately go back to
wearing none as soon as cleared to do so. So obviously, their concern
about their own safety is trumped by a desire for comfort.

So how should the NHL handle this?

After conducting an informal poll on Twitter, I tend to agree with
the suggestions: make mandatory visors a part of the next CBA, and
grandfather current players into the rule. Eventually, in ten years or
so, all players in the NHL will be wearing visors and it will be just as
normal as when the NHL switched to mandatory helmets three decades ago.

There are plenty of other safety issues that need to be addressed as
well, the least of which is no-touch icing. I understand that the NHL is
worried about keeping it’s own brand of hockey separate from the way
it’s played around the world, but the thought that international hockey
rules keeps the game from being physical was downplayed by the
incredible hockey we witnessed in the playoffs this year.

The IIHF has some great, subtle rules that definitively makes hockey a
safer game. Mandatory visors. No-touch icing. No head shots. No
freaking trapezoid. The NHL will be wise to take notes.


A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

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William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

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WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.