By Rachel Villari An historically sharp rise in visor users suggests the NHL and the NHLPA’s decision to grandfather-in face shields may be doing the league some good.
In the past year alone, visor wearers have grown five percent, with all but four teams increasing in usage. Toronto, Calgary, Columbus, Chicago, Vancouver and Carolina all increased over 10 percent each. Of the 640 players league-wide with more than 20 games this season, 549 of them wear visors. The Canes were tops in eye safety with all 20 of their eligible players.
Two years ago, prior to the introduction of Rule 9.7 – which states, “all players who have fewer than 25 games of NHL experience must wear a visor” – 75 percent of players donned visors. Since then, that number has increased to 86 percent. To put all of this in perspective, in 2007-08 only 50 percent of players wore visors, compared to 28 percent in 2001-02. In the late 1990s, it was as low as 15 percent.
The Maple Leafs saw the largest year-over-year increase in wear, rising 19 percent, due in part to the departures of enforcers
Colton Orr and
Frazer McLaren. Don Cherry may be perturbed to see that this coincided with a drop in penalty minutes. Last season, the club was sixth in PIM. This season, the Leafs were 12th. Toronto is reflecting a league-wide trend. As the NHL welcomes more young players, and rules such as this prioritize safety, a shift in the game will be more observable on paper and in play.
This feature appears in the Playoff Preview 2015 edition of The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.