With the recent suspension of Chicago Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg for his instigator penalty while wearing a helmet visor/face shield, it got me thinking about how dangerous the visor can be in any type of fight, and that there should be stiffer penalties for players fighting with visors.
Versteeg can argue who started the fight between himself and Kyle Turris in the final minute of the game, but players with the visors should not fight. They should at least have the common sense to take their helmets off before dropping the mitts.
The major problem with the visors in a fight, is that a player could potentially get their hand sliced if his opponent drops his visor as they are swinging. Currently the NHL has rule 56 which is a rule pertaining to fighting and what is allowed in altercations.
Rule 56 of the NHL Rule Book states:
If a player penalized as an instigator of an altercation is wearing a face shield, he shall be assessed an additional Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty.
(NOTE 4) Should the player who instigates the fight be wearing a face shield, but removes it before instigating the altercation, the additional Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty shall not apply.
This penalty was put into the NHL Rule book to protect players from injuries, but is this rule enough to protect players? Not really, because if the player not to be deemed the aggressor is wearing the visor then there is a good chance that player will be injured.
This is purely an issue of safety for all players, especially those who fight on regular occasions. I believe that those who regularly fight in games should NEVER wear visors and those who fight with visors (and do not remove their helmet) should be suspended for three games and fined for doing so.
The league seems to be heading in a direction where every player, except for the fighters/tough guys wear visors. If that is the case then a rule such as this should be instituted immediately to protect the players.
I am a huge Chicago Blackhawks fan, but I believe that the suspension regarding Kris Versteeg should have been a little longer, mainly because Versteeg is a very emotional player, and in all likelihood this will happen once again.
Kris Versteeg and other players with visors should leave the fighting up to the teams tough guys (Matt Walker and Ben Eager) and stay focused on putting the puck in the net.
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