Aggression and Visors in the National Hockey League

Authors: Sean T. Stevens, MA, Jamie Lynn Masco, BA, Julian Paul Keenan, PhD


Ice hockey is inherently physical in nature, and physical contact is an expected and desirable part of the game.1,2 Because hockey is played on a closed surface at high speeds, there exists a significant risk of injury resulting from collisions with other players and objects. Of particular concern are injuries to the head or face, such as facial lacerations or eye injuries. In adult recreational leagues, helmets are almost always mandatory, but facial protection is often optional (as it is with the National Hockey League [NHL]). Considerable debate exists over whether visors should be mandated in order to reduce the occurrence of such serious injuries. Visors have been reported to reduce peripheral vision3and fog up during the course of a game,4 while not offering greater protection against eye, face, and head injuries.5 Players also “look down” upon the visor, seeing lack of a visor as a sign of increased masculinity and toughness while also reporting that wearing one may make them a target for the opposition.6

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