Canucks’ Dale Weise bows to tough guy stigma against visors
But rugged winger believes eye protection should be mandatory
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dale Weise doesn’t wear a visor, but wishes he could.
The Vancouver Canucks winger and occasional pugilist is the victim of a stigma that exists in the National Hockey League that says, basically, “thou shall not wear a visor if you fight.”
“It’s tough for guys in a situation like myself,” Weise said before Thursday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. “If there wasn’t that stigma that if you fight you can’t wear a visor I’d wear one. I think it’s garbage. I think personally everyone should wear one.”
Weise hopes the NHL Players’ Association will support an initiative that came out of this week’s meeting of NHL general managers calling for the grandfathering of mandatory visors. What that means is players entering the league would have to wear a visor, while those already playing in the NHL would continue to have a choice.
Weise would like to see the league and its players go a step further.
“If it was mandatory guys like myself wouldn’t feel like they need to go without a visor,” he said.
If visors are grandfathered, that likely won’t change much for players like Weise. He thinks he’d still have to continue to play without one.
“Maybe a couple of years down the road once I kind of earn my keep, maybe I can put one on, but for now that stigma still exists and there’s not much you can do about it,” he said.
Weise acknowledged he gets lots of pressure from family and friends to wear a visor.
“All the time,” he said. “My mom and dad tell me I should wear one, but they understand the situation I am in. My girlfriend tells me all the time I should put one on, but she understands, too, there’s this stigma that guys who do take their mitts off every now and then shouldn’t wear one.”
Weise has no doubt that the vast majority of NHL players would support the mandatory use of visors.
“It would be interesting if they had a vote to make it mandatory what it would be,” he said. “If I had to make a prediction I’d bet 75 or 80 per cent would vote to make visors mandatory.
“I’d vote that way myself. It’s critical. You look at a guy like Manny (Malhotra). He’s in great physical shape, if it wasn’t for that injury that guy could have played for who knows how long. Then you see (Marc) Staal take one in the eye the other day ... the game happens so fast, sticks and pucks are flying around. There’s life after hockey and there’s your family and everything you have to think about.”
Defencemen Keith Ballard has worn a visor most of his professional career. If he needs a reminder as to why he should keep wearing one, all he has to do is glance at his visor after games.
“You look at your visor at the end of the game and it’s scratched here, nicked there,” Ballard said. “That’s your eyes and your face.”
He said whether or not the league acts on the issue, the number of players wearing them will continue to increase. Like goalies without masks and players without helmets, Ballard says players without visors will soon be a distant memory.
“It’s one of those things where in 10 years, 15 years, people are going to look back and say, ‘I can’t believe that he played without a visor.’ It’s just like the time when guys couldn’t imagine being forced to wear a helmet.”
FAMILIAR NUMBER: Apparently Todd Bertuzzi’s No. 44 jersey has not been retired.
Andrew Gordon, who was recalled Thursday from the Chicago Wolves, was scheduled to wear No. 44 in his Canuck debut on Thursday.
Gordon has 16 goals and 26 points in 47 games with the Wolves this season.
“He is a character kid, he has provided a lot of leadership down there in Chicago,” said Canucks’ assistant general manager Lorne Henning. “He has exceptional speed and is a good penalty killer. He plays right wing and centre.”
Gordon’s 16 goals are second best on the American Hockey League Wolves this season.
“He plays on the first power-play unit down there so he has some offensive skill,” Henning said.
A Nova Scotia native, Gordon was acquired by the Canucks from the Anaheim Ducks last February in a trade for minor league defenceman Sebastien Erixon.
Gordon has 49 NHL games on his resume with three goals and four assists. Most of those games came last season when he logged 37 games with the Ducks. Gordon was drafted in the seventh round (197th overall) by the Washington Capitals in 2004.
LOOKING UP: They rank 29th in league attendance, but the crowds are up slightly for the Phoenix Coyotes this season.
Heading into Thursday’s game against the Canucks, the Coyotes had averaged 13,226 fans for their first 16 homes games at Jobing.com Arena. Last season, the Coyotes averaged only 12,420 fans.
The New York Islanders have the league’s worst attendance this season, averaging just 12,811 per game.
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