Thanks to Chris Pronger nearly getting his eye popped out of it’s socket, the mandatory visor debate has started up again full force. Fighting always gets lumped into this argument at some point, since fighting with a visor is considered by many as unseemly. You can have the pugilists doff their caps before the bout, but that removes an important layer of protection for when one or both combatants fall to the ice. I imagine orthopedists recommend not punching a hard plastic face shield with your fist also.
So what’s the solution? I say go ahead and make visors mandatory…and replace fistfights with stick battles. Now, you’d still have to have a rule against striking someone in the head with your stick, but imagine the sight of Zdeno Chara skating in on his target, holding his monstrous stick in front of him like a broadsword. His opponent (Paul Gaustad, let’s say) deftly deflects Chara’s first few swings but is hard pressed. However, a wild swing from the brute leaves him exposed, and Goose knocks the stick from the Kurgan – er, Chara’s hands and wins the day. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to see that.
In all seriousness, I don’t know how much longer fighting will be considered compatible with a league lurching toward caring about player safety. I enjoy a good hockey fight that happens for a reason other than “well, I’m a good and you’re a goon, and we’re both out here, so…”, but if it were decided that the game would be better without it, I would be fine with it.