The NHL and NHL Players' Association had discussed during the most recent collective bargaining negotiation to create a mandatory rule for all players to wear visors, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in an email to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
However, the discussions were brief and failed to gain traction because the NHLPA has taken a firm stance that it is the player's right to choose whether he uses a visor. In discussing the NHL's opinion on the matter, Daly stated that the NHL is in favor of a mandatory rule requiring all players to wear visors.
Daly stated that the use of the shields has risen in recent years and cited that 56 percent of players wore visors in 2009, while more than 70 percent of players are wearing them this season.
It seems likely that this increase in visor-use is augmented by the American Hockey League's decision to make visors mandatory for all players beginning during the 2006-07 season. With the AHL acting as the primary feeder system for the NHL, players adjusted to wearing the extra equipment.
However, as is the case with cut-resistant socks, players have expressed that it is uncomfortable to adjust to the "feel" of new equipment. Conversely, the players might want to consider how much more uncomfortable it would be to adjust to life without the use of a functioning eye.
This debate has regained momentum following the incident involving New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal on Tuesday night. Staal was not wearing a visor and was hit in the face by a deflected shot. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Rangers have yet to update his status.