Pens' Orpik considering wearing protective visor

Brooks Orpik is among the team leaders in blocked shots for the Penguins.
Brooks Orpik is among the team leaders in blocked shots for the Penguins.
Photo by Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 2:39 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Many of the Penguins play without wearing a protective visor.

One of their biggest names is thinking about making a change.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who wore a visor only when it was required during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, has reconsidered since seeing Rangers defenseman Marc Staal sustain a possibly serious eye injury Tuesday night.

“I guess there really isn't a valid excuse to not wear one anymore,” Orpik said.

Many players prefer playing without a visor because they say it obscures their vision.

“Some of the guys say that can't see as well,” Orpik said. “Well, I look around and see Sid (Sidney Crosby), Geno (Evgeni Malkin) and (Tampa Bay star Steven) Stamkos wearing visors out there. They're the best players in the game, and they have plenty of vision even though they use visors. There's probably no excuse anymore.”

Staal's injury has reverberated through hockey. The defenseman was hit in the right eye by a slap shot during a game Tuesday against the Flyers. Staal will make a full recovery, according to the Rangers, but is out indefinitely.

Orpik nearly endured a similar injury last season.

“(Boston defenseman Zdeno) Chara sent a one-timer right by my face,” Orpik said. “You literally have no time to react.”

Since Staal's injury, Orpik sounds like a changed man.

“I think (a visor is) probably in my near future,” he said. “During the lockout, my college coach was all over me about it. You look around, coaches are all preaching so much stick on puck right now. That means more shots are deflected toward your face, and ice is so bad right now, a lot of those shots are on edge. It is more dangerous. You see it a lot.”

Other Penguins are not adopting Orpik's stance.

Forwards Craig Adams, Tanner Glass and defenseman Mark Eaton choose to play without visors. Staal's injury won't change that.

Eaton's 8-year-old daughter pleaded with him to wear a visor after seeing the Staal injury.

“She said, ‘Daddy, you need to put a visor on,' ” Eaton said. “That's the only thing that might sway me. But even that — it just is such a nuisance with the fog and water.”

Adams, the team's player union representative, is hopeful that wearing a visor never becomes mandatory.

“I think it should be up to the player to decide,” Adams said.

Glass isn't interested in a visor.

“Not one bit,” he said. “I got my eyeball hurt last year. We know the risks. It's something I deal with. I feel like I'm more in the game, not sitting behind the glass like a spectator.”

Orpik, it seems, is OK with that.

“It's something that would take getting used to,” he said. “But visors are a lot better now than they used to be. There's just no excuse.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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