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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not an Ad for Visors, Just an Advisory

It looks like Tom Poti will be just fine after a scary incident in Game Six of this past playoff  disaster round.  Poti suffered the injury when he was hit by a wicked backhander from Mike Cammalleri.  It seemed to be touch-and-go for a while, but Poti has announced that the doctors "are 100 percent confident I'll make a full recovery."  Good thing too, because he truly stepped his game up for the playoffs and could teach the rest of the team a thing or two about playoff intensity.
Getting something out of the way before going on with the rest of the story...the whole big deal about Boudreau having coached Cammalleri in the minors.  You would have thought that, given that previous relationship, the coaching staff would have figured out how to stop him in the series, but they didn't.  Just saying.

But this injury conveniently heats up the ongoing debate about the use of visors by all NHL players.  Poti, of course, wasn't wearing one at the time.  Supposedly he's "thinking about" wearing one for next year.  Let me tell you something...if it was me and I temporarily lost my sight and basically had to have my face surgically reconstructed, there would be any "thinking about" it at all.  But the fact that he realizes there is a good reason for it is encouraging., more than any other major sport, has earned a reputation for being played by the toughest of all athletes.  You can debate it all you want, but I offer as proof our very own Eric Belanger and what he did to make sure he kept on playing in this series.  (Note to Caps management--please re-sign this guy and make sure he's on the dental plan) Think about that next time you get a toothache or a cold sore. So you can understand to an extent if someone who felt he had no need for extra protective gear might feel a bit less, uh, manly.  I know all about the rule about fight instigation while wearing a visor--so TAKE THE THING OFF if you're going to fight, it's that simple!  It won't make you any less of a man, in fact it'll make you better than Matt Cooke, that's for sure.

So at what cost do you have to prove your worth?  Now I'm not one of these alarmists that says we have to have a rule right now to make these players start wearing visors.  What I'm saying is the players need to start, if you'll pardon the expression, looking at things differently.

Take the case of legendary defenseman Al MacInnis.  He suffered an eye injury late in his career and barely considered using a visor after that.  You want to know what changed his mind?  His son asked him how come he hadn't worn a visor before he got hurt.  He couldn't come up with any answer, let alone a good answer.  I'll never forget when I read about that in The Hockey News.  Unfortunately, his injury caused permanent damage and he now has to wear a special contact lens to correct a blind spot.  It also forced him to eventually retire, although thankfully he had had a stellar career before that.

Poti should consider this and other aspects before fully deciding.  Yes, it may affect his play a bit at the beginning.  Yes, it will take some time to adjust.  But is it worth losing an eye over should it happen again?  Only you can decide that, Tom, but I know what most people would say.  And given that, come playoff time he may be one our best players both on and off the ice it would only magnify this one decision. This is a decision that many players face season after season and quietly put off instead of truly thinking it through. This fan of the game is asking those players to think about it clearly.

For your career.  For your life.

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