PITTSBURGH — In his first 10 seasons in the NHL, Brent Seabrook tried wearing a visor once, and it didn’t take. But there’s nothing quite like getting hit just above the eye with a frozen slab of rubber to make you rethink the way you’ve been doing things.
Seabrook has been wearing a visor ever since he had his right eyebrow obliterated by a Michael Frolik shot on Nov. 15.
“I’ve been hit a few times around the eye, but that was the worst one,” Seabrook said. “I’d like to be able to see when my career’s over.”
It seems like a no-brainer, given how often players are seen bent over in pain, holding a blood-soaked towel to their face while rushing off the ice to get stitched up (Seabrook, of course, didn’t miss a shift.) But there are a still a stubborn few on every team who opt for unimpeded vision over safety.
Since the fall of 2013, the NHL has required new players to wear visors. But anyone who had played at least 26 games in the league at that point was exempt from the rule. Now that Seabrook has opted to add the protective shield, only three current Blackhawks — Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins and Rob Scuderi — don’t wear visors.
Scuderi is still sporting a scar above his lip after taking a puck to the face in Dallas on Dec. 22. He needed about 25 stitches to repair the wound and didn’t return in the game, which he joked made for some awkward family photos at Christmas. He probably would have needed a full college-style facemask to avoid injury on that shot, but the close call didn’t shake his confidence in any way. A dozen years into his NHL career, he’s not willing to change it up and add a visor to his helmet.
“I’ve never really worn a shield and never really felt the need to wear one, because I’m usually paying attention to the game,” he said. “I saw that tip happen last second. You try to turn your head at the last second and try to turn away. It’s a rare occurrence when it happens. You just try to keep your wits about you and know where the puck is at all times when you’re on the ice.”
Shaw has his own reason for passing on the visor. He was badly cut by one during his AHL days in Rockford, when it dug into his cheek after Shaw was hit along the boards. And Joel Quenneville — who played in the 1970s and ‘80s, when visors were rare — isn’t about to force anyone to wear one.
“Definitely up to the player,” he said. “I just think the way the league has progressed, more and more guys are having it. It’s probably a matter of time for some guys to eventually be wearing one. But I’m not going there.”
Seabrook didn’t want to go there, either. But he quite literally had some sense knocked into him.
It’s something you’ve got to get used to,” he said. “I’ve stuck with it for 10 or 15 games now, and it’s getting better and better. After a while, you don’t even notice it.”