The NHL competition committee have agreed to recommend making visors mandatory for all players entering the league.
Players with more than 25 games of NHL experience will still have the option whether to wear the extra equipment, but all others will be required to sport a shield.
The long-awaited consensus is expected to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA’s Executive Committee so that the mandate can take effect from the start of the 2013/14 season.
Seventy-three per cent of players wore visors this season and an NHLPA survey of its membership reportedly offered a 'clear majority' in support of the proposal.
“I think the biggest thing is that every player coming into the league has previously worn one, and we have 70-plus percent of the guys currently wearing them in the league,” Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenseman and special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, told reporters in Toronto.
High-profile injuries to players like Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who was struck near his right eye with a deflected puck in early March and has yet to fully regain his normal vision, are thought to have prompted this decision to be made earlier than initially thought.
While most teams have since commented that they valued having the choice to wear, or not wear, a visor, it is still anticipated that a rule would be accepted. Visors are mandatory in most European leagues, international competition and have been required in the AHL since 2006.
Details such as size requirements for visors and alterations to the rule that penalises players for fighting with a shield still need to be ironed out, but it appears as though the NHL is ready to take this step.
In March, Capitals General Manager George McPhee expressed his support for making visors mandatory: “I think that the real simple question here is — the players that are in the league can do what they want already — but the people coming in, if this was your son or your daughter and they’re in the league, would you want them to wear a visor? And I think the answer is yes. I think they should keep them on.”
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