One of the best rules ever instituted by the American Hockey League is the mandate of half shields on helmets. If you need proof on how good the rule is, you need to look no further than two players on the IceHogs roster.
Let’s start with the most recent incident: Bryan Bickell.
On Saturday night in San Antonio, Bickell was standing in front of Karl Goehring and the Rampage goal looking to redirect a Jordan Hendry slapshot. The Hendry shot got away from him and struck Bickell square in his left eye.
The puck, however, didn’t reach his eye directly as the visor worn by Bickell absorbed most of the blow. Upon impact, Bickell’s visor cracked and went flying off about 15-20 feet away from the play. The referee, Nigel Pelletier, immediately blew the play dead as Bickell crumpled to the ice.
Bickell very well could have lost his eye, shattered an orbital bone or severally broken his nose. But because he was wearing his half shield, Bickell is listed as day-to-day and could be back as early as this weekend.
And for the record, Bickell did not escape injury free as IceHogs Athletic Trainer D.J. Jones said he suffered a “hyphema” which is the pooling of blood in the anterior chamber of the eye. His eye was also swollen shut. But that definitely beats the alternative!
Case #2 involves Hendry. Flash back to the final game of the regular season last April when Hendry was inadvertently hit in the head with Niklas Hjalmarsson’s stick. Hendry suffered a fractured skull and was momentarily knocked unconscious.
Now you ask ‘where does the face shield come in?”
Hendry suffered the injuries he did with a helmet and visor, imagine what would have happened without them. Hendry missed exactly one month and was able to play in Rockford’s Game 7 of the West Division finals against the Wolves.
There is no reason why any prospect like Bickell or Hendry should suffer career ending injuries because they are not wearing a visor in the AHL. The AHL is a stepping stone for these players and it would be a shame if a preventable injury would keep them from reaching the NHL.
So big kudos to the AHL for instituting this rule a couple of seasons back!