Vancouver Canuck’s center Manny Malhotra is set to have surgery on his left eye on Tuesday. Malhotra suffered a serious eye injury after taking a puck to the face in the Canucks March 16, 2011 game vs. the Colorado Avalanche. Malhotra has since been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, that’s the best case scenario. If Tuesday’s surgery does not go well, Malhotra could permanently lose the vision in his left eye.
Eye injuries in hockey may seem far and few between but they’re more common than most realize. The most notable was the injury to Bryan Berard, who, at 23 years of age, suffered what was then thought to be a career ending injury after taking a high stick to the face. Berard was wearing a visor. Berard did eventually find his way back to the NHL but could never regain the form the 1995 first overall draft pick had early in his career. Although this incident is the most notorious, there are many others. Eye injuries are different than other injuries. Players and well, all people really, have an appreciation of what their eyes do and a good understanding of just how delicate and fragile the eye is.
Every time another eye injury occurs, the debate rages on: should visors be mandatory in hockey?
No. Why would hockey attempt to solve the problem of eye and face injuries by making a half visor mandatory. Doesn’t that just solve half the problem? Full cages or full visors should be mandatory. Eliminate the problem completely. The technology exists but for some reason, hockey refuses to incorporate it into its game. What’s worse is the reason full visors and full cages aren’t mandatory: comfort.
As pro-full cages as I am, I’m also the biggest hypocrite on the issue. I play rec ice hockey and rec ball hockey and I don’t even wear a half visor. Why not? I wish I could answer that. Unfortunately, there are too many hockey players out there, rec players through to the professionals, that fully understand and appreciate the dangers associated with hockey but don’t gear up accordingly. Why is that?