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NHL visor debate: Mathieu Perreault cut when shield breaks

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It seems to be a matter of time until visors are mandatory for players entering the NHL. But an incident involving Washington Capitals center Mathieu Perreault on Tuesday night serves as another cautionary tale that they’re not perfect.

Perreault took an inadvertent butt end of the stick to his face from New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo as he was sliding to the ice in front of the visitors’ bench. Perreault’s visor broke and he was in pain as he tried to get off the ice.

“He got cut pretty good,” coach Adam Oates said. “He was getting stitched up.”

Asked if Perreault would be OK, Oates said: “Yeah. I didn’t hear otherwise.”

Caps forward Brooks Laich, who does not wear a visor, has mentioned time and again that they include risk.

“Visors can also be hazards out there. Visors can break,” he said in a November 2011 interview for this in-depth story about the shields. “I’ve seen visors break and cut players. I’ve seen visors get pushed down and cut players. They could be a hazard, too. I don’t think you’re ever going to be safe unless maybe you went to a full shield, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.”

When New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal suffered an eye injury earlier this month, the visor debated heated up again. Brothers Eric and Jordan Staal began wearing them Tuesday night, giving in to their mother’s wish.

The NHL wants to make visors mandatory for incoming players, grandfathering in those already in the league. The NHL Players’ Association educates players on the matter but supports “individual choice,” according to Mathieu Schneider, a former defenseman who serves as special assistant to executive director Donald Fehr.

According to NHLPA figures, approximately 73 percent of players are wearing visors this season. That’s up from 28 percent in 2001-02, a number published by The Hockey News.

Perreault is generally listed at 5-foot-10. When asked recently about visor choice, he said he’d be “too scared” not to wear one.

“I’m like this high. I feel like everything is just coming this way,” Perreault said, making a motion across his eye level. “If I was [6-6 defenseman Jeff Schultz], for sure, I would probably go no visor because you’re so far up. But for me, there’s no way.”

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