How many potential or actual career ending eye injuries will it take before the NHL institutes safety precautions to prevent them? The answer: at least one more.

            Last Monday, Mikhail Grabovski of the Toronto Maple Leafs took a swing that hit Philadelphia Fliers’ player Chris Pronger’s right eye. Within minutes he was off the ice and on the floor of the hallway in pain. The injury to his eye left him with an uncertain prognosis for his sight. Although this is not the first potentially devastating eye injury in the sport, it doesn’t look to be the last either – the NHL has yet to make rules mandating the use of visors. Furthermore, possible reasons for the delay – that visors indicate weakness, it’s every player’s choice, and visors will hurt the performance of those not used to them – ring hollow (McGuire, 2011).

            Let’s take these one by one.

            Do visors indicate weakness? No, of course not. Surgeons wear gloves in the operating room to protect themselves from hazardous bodily fluids. Schools hold drills to protect their students in the case of an emergency. Protecting yourself is not weak. Safety is smart, and we accept it as necessary in other areas of our lives.

            It’s every player’s choice. Hardly. The NHL is a business. Businesses require their employees to follow certain safety precautions. Not only does the NHL have the right to make such rules, they have the responsibility to protect their employees (and themselves).

            Visors will hurt performance. Sounds superstitious. Plenty of players in the NHL wear visors now. Sure it might be a transition for someone not used to them, but let’s admit it – people are rather good at adapting.

            Ultimately, the NHL should be doing what businesses do – protecting their employees (and themselves) by taking the lead in instituting further safety measures. The players, for their part, should be getting rid of outdated and dangerous norms – it’s time to adapt, people. And consultants should be prepared to deal with the fallout – the anxiety and effect on confidence that such a change can produce. It’s time.

References

McGuire, P. (2011, October 25). Should visors be mandatory in the NHL? Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from http://nhl-red-light.si.com/2011/10/25/should-visors-be-mandatory-in-the-nhl/?sct=nhl_wr_a3

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