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Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman favors mandatory visors for players

The Flyers’ Chris Pronger puts a hand over his eyes after being clipped by a stick near his right eye against Toronto on Monday.

Associated Press

The Flyers’ Chris Pronger puts a hand over his eyes after being clipped by a stick near his right eye against Toronto on Monday.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman believes eye safety is so important, he asked his players who do not wear a visor to consider putting one on.

Not one did.

"I'm not exactly disappointed," Yzerman said. "I can't force them, and I understand their reasons for not wearing one. I didn't until the last year of my career."

The subject got a fresh airing last week after Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, who does not wear a visor, was inadvertently clipped near his right eye by a stick blade during a game. He is expected to be fine but will be out several weeks, and the sight of him holding a hand to a bleeding face was chilling.

Still, some players, especially older ones who don't wear visors, are resistant, and Yzerman acknowledged that when he first put one on after being hit in the eye with a puck, it felt "weird."

The players association has said about 70 percent of players wear visors. For the Lightning, 13 of 22 skaters (59 percent) wear them.

Yzerman hoped to increase that number, and players said they respected his request. Defenseman Pavel Kubina said he even tried wearing one in practice but "I had a hard time with it."

Kubina said he knows he should wear one and his father badgers him once a week to put one on. He even thought about it again after seeing Pronger's injury but said, "You can't see as much with it."

Right wing Adam Hall also said he considered it and tried wearing one last summer but it affected his peripheral vision.

Yzerman favors making visors mandatory in the next collective bargaining agreement. The players association leadership would not mind, either, though it says polls show players want the choice.

The solution, Yzerman said, is grandfathering in players who do not wear them, much as the league did in 1979 with helmets. "All these kids have never not played with facial protection, so there's nothing for them to get used to," Yzerman said. "We want these guys on the ice. I want our guys to wear visors not only to protect against serious injury but any injury that keeps them out for even one game."

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman favors mandatory visors for players 10/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2011 7:41pm]
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