Full Shields Could Be Eliminated. Is It A Good Thing?
Full shields have been mandatory in college hockey for roughly 30 years, but now, for the first time since the rule’s inception, there is a real chance that the mandate could be eliminated.
Leading the charge against them are the vast majority of college coaches, most notably BU coach Jack Parker, who has been against it for decades now.
While the publicly offered reason is that they want to protect player safety, there is little doubt in my mind that the real reason is to make players in college hockey the same as every other league, and to provide more of a way to compete with the CHL for the top talent.
While it looks like they will get their way, I have long been opposed to wearing half or 3/4 shields, and still am:Much of it, for me, is a safety issue. I find it hard to believe that taking away face protection will lead to the game being safer. The most often offered up reason is that it will force players to respect each other more and they won’t be able to use stickwork and blah blah blah but if you’ve ever seen a hockey game anywhere else you’ll realize that is total nonsense. I mean just look at all this respecting your opponent going on. Coaches say that removing full shields will reduce reckless play, which just shows how hilariously out of touch they are, and any quote suggesting anything of the like should be played on a loop by CHL coaches hoping to lure top talent, because if they have that little of a grasp of logic then they clearly can’t coach a hockey team.
To rebuff a couple other points from this:
The college hockey contingent has acknowledged that more facial lacerations and dental injuries could result from the elimination of full shields, but believe the tradeoff is worth it.
“(Data) doesn’t show substantially less concussions,” McLaughlin said, “but you can’t prove more either. There’s more facial lacerations, but not exponentially. The USHL hasn’t had any catastrophic eye injuries or neck injuries, and we’ve had some in college hockey.”
First off, the idea that facial lacerations and dental injuries are OK for a college hockey player is ludicrous. I understand every player wants to get to the NHL, but they’re not actually NHLers yet. If Jonathan Toews takes a puck off the face he has millions of dollars to help him pay for it. What if some kid from Sacred Heart takes one off the face and needs facial surgery? There would, I assume, be insurance coverage, but having to spend 40 years as an investment banker who has to wear dentures seems like a steep price for a kid to pay just because coaches have some misguided notion of what would fix dangerous hockey.
As to the USHL not having any catastrophic eye injuries or neck injuries, they haven’t had any yet. All it takes is once. There was, at one point, no Travis Roy either. We shouldn’t wait until after something bad happens to correct a problem, or in this case create one for no reason.
College hockey is better than ever, and they’ve done it by providing a great product that gets talented hockey players coming in. Guys like Chris Kreider are jumping from the Frozen Four to contributing in the NHL playoffs, and with the number of collegians in the NHL increasing every year, there’s no need to change the game. Especially for the worse.