Fewer than 15% of NHLers wear an eye shield. Many players say visors restrict vision and give a false sense of safety that encourages recklessness. Others believe that shields compromise a tough-guy image. Defense-man Eric Weinrich, who wore a visor when he played for the Hartford Whalers before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1993 and who resumed wearing one after having his right eye slashed in November, has hinted that the Blackhawks discourage players from wearing visors.
Offensive stars such as Philadelphia's Eric Lindros and Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr wear visors, as do Boston Bruins future Hall of Famer Raymond Bourque and New York Rangers enforcer Ulf Samuelsson. "It doesn't affect my vision," says Bourque, a defenseman who began wearing a visor during the 1985-86 season. "If I fight, I take it off."
Current visors are not all-protective—stick blades have room to wedge behind them—and some models may indeed limit vision. But a couple of companies are working on developing a shield that supposedly corrects these shortcomings. And players could grow accustomed to visors the way they got used to helmets after their use was mandated by the NHL in 1981; that mandate was rescinded in '94, yet no one stopped wearing helmets.
Still, it's the players who have been reluctant to confront the head-injury crisis—their association rejected the NHLs request to include equipment safety standards in last year's collective bargaining agreement. There are indications that in light of the recent rash of injuries, the players may be rethinking that stance. They would be wise to do so. As the newly revisored Weinrich says, "I don't want to go around the rest of my life with one eye."
He Wasn't No. 1 There, Either
A recent catalog from a Pennsylvania-based memorabilia company called Coach's Corner Sports Auctions carried an intriguing entry. Item number 164 was described as a "Barbra Streisand used pillow." Lest there be any confusion about the sporting relevance of "this awesome one of a kind item," the catalog added a breathless "possibly slept on by Andre??"
Mr. Image may be disappointed to learn that the pillow sold for a modest $53.
Life Imitates Art (Modell)
In the 1966 movie The Fortune Cookie, a cameraman named Harry Hinkle, played by Jack Lemmon, is in Cleveland's Memorial Stadium covering a late-season game between the Browns and the Minnesota Vikings for CBS. In the second quarter Hinkle is standing at the 30-yard-line, just a few feet from the edge of the field, when he is run over by a fictional Browns punt returner named Luther (Boom Boom) Jackson. "It looks like Boom Boom Jackson has not only racked up 55 yards," intones the public-address announcer, who is played by a young Keith Jackson, "but one of our cameramen." Hinkle is later befriended by Boom Boom, who worries that Hinkle won't recover.
On Dec. 18, 1988, a real cameraman, named Michael J. Gallagher, was in Memorial Stadium covering the Browns-Houston Oilers game for WJET-TV, an ABC affiliate in Erie, Pa. In the second quarter Gallagher, while kneeling in front of the Cleveland rooting section known as the Dawg Pound, was hit and knocked unconscious by Oilers receiver Haywood Jeffires and Browns defender Will Hill. To this date Gallagher has heard nothing from Hill or the Browns. But before a 1993 game that Gallagher was working in Pittsburgh, Jeffires walked across the field and hugged him.