DeBoer sees a day when full face protection becomes the norm

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There used to be a time when NHL goaltenders didn’t wear masks.

That seems amazing today, but it wasn’t all that long ago. Around 50 years ago, in fact.

San Jose Sharks coach Pete DeBoer sees a day when full face protection could become the norm for skaters, too.

“It’s probably the next step,” DeBoer told the Canadian Press. “No one thought helmets were coming in and they did, and then no one thought visors were coming in and they did. I’m sure there will be a day down the road one day here where it is (normal). I think it’s a ways off. It’ll get here one day.”

Last week, Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis suffered facial fractures after being struck by a shot. Hamhuis is expected to be out at least two months.

While injuries like that are still fairly rare, with so much more emphasis on shot-blocking and occupying the shooting lanes, defending has become considerably more dangerous for NHLers. Add to the equation how much harder players can shoot the puck, and it’s no surprise to hear predictions like DeBoer’s.

Whether he’ll be proven right remains to be seen. But for the record, it was only about a decade ago that Don Cherry said that players who wore visors were mostly “Europeans and French guys.”

Visors have since been made mandatory for all new players.