All new NHL players should wear visors: Dougie Hamilton

Boston Bruins star rookie defenceman Dougie Hamilton has almost always liked what he has seen while playing hockey and he wants to do everything possible to keep it that way.

Boston Bruins star rookie defenceman Dougie Hamilton has almost always liked what he has seen while playing hockey and he wants to do everything possible to keep it that way.

Hamilton can never see a day when he plays without a half visor attached to his visor. He also has a tough time understanding why anyone who has played with a visor his entire life would choose to remove it once he makes the big leagues.

“In the AHL, you have to wear them and obviously in junior, you have to wear them, too, so I don’t see why you would want to take it off,” the 19-year-old Hamilton said before Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. “As a young guy, you’re used to it and the visors here are much better than in junior. They’re a lot lighter and you can get them shorter or however you want. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t.”

More and more people within the game are seeing the issue the same way as Hamilton, perhaps influenced by the latest nasty injury which could have been avoided. New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal, who wasn’t wearing a visor, has been sidelined since taking a shot off his eye during a March 5 game.

NHL general managers are in favour of ‘grandfathering’ in the use of the half shields, meaning every incoming player must wear the equipment. Former NHL defenceman Mathieu Schneider, an assistant to NHL players’ association executive director Donald Fehr, says the union could poll its players on the topic. Right now, 72-73 per cent of the league’s players are wearing them.

“I think it should be, for sure, grandfathered in,” Hamilton said. “(The Staal injury) was a little bit flukey, but at the same time, you’ve got to protect yourself with a visor. I want to wear all the best gear I can. You can limit those fluke plays with equipment. It’s like shoulder pads. Looking around the room, a lot of the older guys use a lot less of a shoulder pad than maybe a guy coming in from junior or something like that. It’s what you’re used to.”

If the NHL is serious in moving towards mandating half-visors, it must first deal with an apparent double standard. Players who could be involved in fights steer clear of wearing visors, in part because they’re penalized for doing so. Senators defencemen Chris Phillips and Patrick Wiercioch received 10-minute misconducts earlier this month because they fought with visors on, while coming to the aid of teammates. Phillips, incidentally, adopted the visor after taking a puck in the eye during a game in Edmonton during the 1997-98 season.

“They’ve got to change that visor rule,” said Senators centre Zack Smith, who doesn’t wear a visor. “I don’t get it. It’s like it’s contradicting itself. You want a guy to wear a visor? And then you’re punishing him for it?

Smith, 24, played with a visor in junior, but removed it when he came to the NHL because of the role he inherited.

“Not wearing a visor kind of comes with that,” he said. “But if you’re going to do it (mandating visors) this is the way to go. It’s not like you’re putting a visor on a guy who has played without one for 10 years. I don’t have anything against it. I know if I was my parents, I would probably be happy to hear that rule. As for me, it’s a little tougher to go back.”

AND AS FOR SHRINKING GOALTENDING EQUIPMENT?: “I don’t think what they’re talking about is going to effect too much,” said Senators goaltender Robin Lehner. “They say they want to take away from the top of our pads. It doesn’t even make sense. (The pads) overlap when we’re in the butterfly, maybe by three or four or five inches. They want to take away that space, that’s fine. They want to make knee pads smaller? Maybe the five-hole gets affected a little bit.”

THE BRUIN’ DEBATE: With Boston in town and Bobby Orr having turned 65 Wednesday, there was a spirited dressing room debate about whether Orr or Wayne Gretzky or someone else deserves the title as the greatest player of all time. Why not ask another Hall-of-Famer, who played against both of them? “I’ve got to go with Orr,” said Sportsnet analyst Denis Potvin. “You would back off him a bit and he would find another gear.” Potvin says Orr revolutionized the position, pointing out that the year before Orr won his first Norris Trophy in 1968, defensive defenceman New York Rangers defenceman Harry Howell won the trophy. Potvin, acknowledges, however, that stopping Gretzky and Mario Lemieux was no picnic, either.

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