Photo Credit: Liam McHugh, NBC Sports

 

By Tina Kolokathis

In last night’s New York Ranger win against the Philadelphia Flyers, Rangers defenseman Mark Staal was smacked with the puck in what was intended to be a slapshot by Kimmo Timonen. The puck was deflected off the stick of Flyers’ Jakub Voracek and landed on Staal’s right eye. Take a look at the shot here.

The injury left Staal writhing in pain and blood dripped rapidly to the ice. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lunqvist commented on the incident, telling ESPN, “That was scary. He was in a lot of pain. It was tough to focus after that.”

There is no word yet on Staal’s condition. Staal’s brother Eric, a center for the Carolina Hurricanes, told NHL.com‘s Dan Rosen, “It’s hard to say now. They’re just waiting for the swelling to go down. He sounded like he was in OK spirits but we don’t know a lot right now… We’ll know more with some more time.”

The injury, which was one of the worst we’ve seen this season, will undoubtedly bring debate over whether visors should be regulated by the league. At the moment, visor use is not mandatory, although the NHL does advocate for players to wear them.  NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told USA Today Sports, “We have worked with the players’ association for a number of years spanning at least back to the early 2000’s on further regulation in this area and at least to (this) point, the PA has consistently supported maintaining this as a matter of ‘player’s choice.'”

This is not the first time a player has been injured due to a lack of protection.  Back in the 2005-2006 season, AHL player Jordan Smith of the Portland Pirates lost vision in his left eye after a puck to the face.  Philadelphia Flyer Chris Pronger has not returned to the game as of yet due to an injury in 2011 in which he was hit with a stick.

Despite Staal’s injury, the Rangers took a 4-2 win against the Flyers.  The team also claimed defenseman Roman Hamrlik this afternoon as he was taken off waivers, so hopefully losing Staal for a few games won’t hurt the Ranger’s odds for the rest of the season.

What are your thoughts on visors? Should they be regulated by the NHL?

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