BUFFALO, N.Y. — Before the 2011-12 season, Lightning C Nate Thompson never seriously considered wearing a visor. He had worn one only once in his pro career, 2007-08, his last season in the AHL, when the league made them mandatory.
But after a conversation with Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, who lobbied all his players to wear the shield, Thompson decided the time was right.
"You think about it a little bit more when he tells you something," Thompson said Sunday. "And, boy, am I glad I do now."
In the first period Saturday against the Capitals, Thompson was hit above the right eye by a Mike Green slap shot. The shot shattered the visor. Without it, Thompson said, the result "could have been a lot worse" than the eight stitches it took to close his bloody wound.
Thompson did not play Sunday against the Sabres — a precaution, he and coach Jon Cooper said —— and Thompson, who reported no residual effects, said he is proceeding as if he will play Tuesday at Winnipeg.
As did Yzerman, who wore a visor late in his career after a scary eye injury, Thompson would not mind mandatory visors, though he agrees with grandfathering in players who do not currently wear them.
"I understand both sides of it," he said. "I understand if you haven't worn one for a long time in your career that you don't have to wear one. But I would highly suggest it. Obviously, I'm a little biased."
So is Cooper, though he characterizes himself as "old school."
"You see a play like that … you just can't react. The game is too fast," Cooper said. "I would probably advise a guy, if you can wear a visor, you should wear one."
PYATT HURT: F Tom Pyatt left the game in the first period as a precaution, Cooper said, after he took a hard hit "close to the head" from D Mike Weber. Cooper said he did not believe the hit malicious or that Pyatt would miss significant time. "But I talked to him, and he said he was just a little off," Cooper said. "In today's day and age, a little off means you're out."
REUNION: Cooper on Sunday saw his family for the first time since taking the Lightning job March 25. Wife Jessie drove 21/2 hours from Syracuse with twins Julia and Josephine, 4, and son Jonathan, 2. "It just brought a little comfort and reality," said Cooper, who previously coached AHL Syracuse. "It's amazing when (the kids are) that age, just being away from them for two weeks, they have completely changed. They can speak a little better. They're a little taller. They're just a little bit more grown up. That's the tough part, because you miss a little bit of those times."
MINOR MOVES: With Thompson out, F J.T. Wyman was called up from Syracuse. … With D Victor Hedman's return from a lower-body injury, D Mark Barberio was sent to Syracuse.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sabres G Jhonas Enroth, with 32 saves against Tampa Bay, is 4-0-1 in his past seven games with a 1.55 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage. … RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie (upper body) also was scratched.