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Man vs. Visor: Wings have their Opinions

Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 12:24 PM
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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The Wheel Deal
Man vs. Visor: Wings have their Opinions

Ian White played for the first time without a full-face shield this week since suffering a fractured cheekbone last month. (Photo by Getty Images)
Missing the Red Wings’ four-game road swing through California last month was difficult enough, but wearing a full-face shield for nine games after that ran a close second for defenseman Ian White.

“Doctors told me to wear it for four weeks,” White told DetroitRedWings.com this week. “Just didn’t want to do anymore damage to the cheek in case I was hit.”

White had the clear plastic shield removed from his helmet on Monday. He wore it – per doctors’ orders – to protect his fractured right cheekbone, which he sustained Nov. 23 when he stopped a shot by Dallas Stars leading point-producer Jamie Benn.

The shield couldn’t have been too much of a hindrance for White, who had a goal with five assists and a plus-9 rating while wearing it. But it was still a liberating feeling to skate without it, he said.

“The bars down the sides limited my peripheral vision a bit, and it was difficult at times to see the puck if I lost it at my feet,” he said. “I’m just glad to be done with it.”

The Wings’ 4-1 win Tuesday in Pittsburgh was the first game that White has played without the shield since returning to action on Thanksgiving Eve against Calgary. 

Meanwhile, another veteran defenseman began tinkering with a tinted visor this week. On the same day that White dropped his facial protection, Mike Commodore put a visor on his helmet for the first time in more than four years.

“I’m just trying it in practice. I always wondered what a tinted visor was like, so I figured it was time and I fired it on,” said Commodore, who last wore a visor in the 2007 World Championships in Moscow. “It’s actually pretty good.  I’ve worn visors before, I had to wear one my whole first year after I took a slap shot in the eye in my ninth game pro.”
Mike Commodore last wore a visor during the 2007 World Championships in Moscow, Russia (Photo by Getty Images)

The injury that resulted from the hit nearly finished Commodore’s career before it really began. It was late in October, 2000, and Commodore, who was a promising young New Jersey prospect playing in his first month with the now-defunct Albany River Rats, was struck in the face by a puck.

Luckily for him, the orbital bone surrounding Commodore’s right eye absorbed the slap shot from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenseman Andrew Ference. Despite needing some plastic surgery, Commodore managed to play in 52 more games that season between the NHL and AHL.
 
“I remember it being more of a pain than this one,” said Commodore, comparing his current visor to the one he wore some 11 years ago. “This one isn’t actually that bad at all.”

With so many of his Red Wings’ teammates already having suffered head and/or facial injuries this season it would be easy to understand Commodore’s desire to don a visor for the third time in his career.

But he said that the injuries to White, Patrick Eaves, Jiri Hudler, Drew Miller and Niklas Kronwall had nothing to do with his decision.
 
“I’m just trying something. I have lots of practice time and I’m trying something new, that’s all,” Commodore said. “If someone hit me in a game, it might carve up my nose a little bit, but you can fix your nose, not your eyes.”

As for the gray tinting, Commodore explained it this way, “I don’t know, if I’m going to try a visor I might as well go all the way. I always wondered what it was like to play with one of the tinted ones. Looking at those guys I was wondering if they could see, obviously they can, but I just wanted to give it a try.”


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