On Thursday night, Shea Weber took a puck to the face/eye area. Weber was doing his job protecting the front of the net and simply did not have enough time to react to the shot. While we cannot be sure, it looks like a visor would have made a difference.
Weber is the cornerstone of the Nashville Predators defense, and along with Pekka Rinne, a key component of future success for the franchise. As the team’s number one defender, he spends a ton of time on the ice and a lot of it is spent in front of his own net. Weber does all of this work without a visor that would add protection to his face and eyes and could prevent anything from a catastrophic to a minor injury. The Preds have not updated Weber’s condition since he left Thursday’s game against the Oilers with the facial injury so it is not clear how long he could be out. What is clear is that Weber should seriously consider wearing a visor the next time he protects the Preds’ blueline.
While wearing a visor occasionally leads to an injury that would not have otherwise occurred (usually minor cuts or scrapes) or even a stick getting trapped near a player’s face, the injuries it prevents could have catastrophic consequences. A good example is Steven Stamkos in May 2011. Like Weber, Stamkos is a franchise player and essential for his team’s success. On May 27, 2011, he was heading towards the point when teammate Martin St. Louis tipped a slapshot from close range that hit Stamkos flush in the visor. The video is here. Johnny Boychuk is no slouch, so you can imagine that shot being over 90 miles per hour when it hit Stamkos in the face. Not only did Stamkos not miss any additional games, but he was able to return that night and continue to help his team. If Stamkos is not wearing a visor, the shot certainly would have meant the end of his evening and maybe the season or even his career.
A number of other guys have not been so lucky. Take for example the cases of Bryan Berard or Marc Staal. Berard was hit with a stick on a follow through and suffered a devastating injury to his eye. He was out of the league for a while and was never the same player when he tried to return. Marian Hossa‘s stick was not travelling near as fast as a puck could and likely would not have hit Berard in the eye if he was wearing a visor. Staal was in almost the same situation as Weber. He was defending the front of his net when a shot from the point was deflected up into his eye (video here). These are just two examples of important defensemen suffering serious injuries that could likely have been prevent by wearing a visor. You can search youtube and find a bunch more.
The usual arguments against wearing a visor are guys claiming they impact their play or an issue of toughness. Weber played seven games in the Olympics while wearing a visor and tallied six points; it is tough to say a visor negatively impacted his play. Also, there are already a majority of guys on the Preds’ roster who wear visors and would probably support Weber putting one on as well. There are also not a lot of guys around the league who are going to question Weber’s toughness because he puts a visor on, especially not to his face, and any that would are not worth five minutes of Weber’s time to prove their error.
Even the NHL recognized the importance and safety behind wearing visors and has made them mandatory for new players entering the league beginning this season. Weber is paid a substantial sum of money to be on the ice for the Predators and he is important off the ice as well. He is one of Nashville’s most marketable stars and one of only a handful who are relevant in international play. The Preds need Weber to stay healthy and wearing a visor is a minor change that could have a major impact.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading.
Scott Gardner is the Editor at Predlines.com and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @scottcgardner. For the latest updates in Predator news, follow @PredlinesNSH and like Predlines on Facebook