Gretzky on mandatory visors: 'It's not my call'

Updated: October 20, 2005, 11:11 AM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- As a parent, Wayne Gretzky is a firm believer in hockey players wearing visors to protect their eyes and face.

Mats Sundin
Dave Sandford/Getty ImagesMats Sundin escaped serious eye injury on Opening Night.

"I won't let my son go on the ice without a helmet and a visor on," said Gretzky, now coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

As an NHL coach and one of the game's all-time best players, he says wearing a visor is an individual's decision.

"It's not my call," Gretzky said with a laugh. "You have to ask those guys. I'm retired. You're asking the wrong guy. I would tell you honestly I couldn't play with a visor. But that doesn't mean I have all the answers."

The issue of visors has surfaced again in the NHL following recent facial injuries suffered by Toronto's Mats Sundin and Detroit's Kris Draper.

Shane Doan, one of Gretzky's players, took a puck in the eye Tuesday night.

The NHL has longed pushed for mandatory visors, but it's a matter that must be collectively bargained, which means the NHL Players' Association must sign off on it.

Gretzky said he didn't wear a visor when he was a junior player.

"I tried it in practice for a week and I couldn't see the puck," he said.

Gretzky remembered in his early days with the Edmonton Oilers, coach Glen Sather had the team practice without helmets.

"Glen's theory was not to wear helmets at practice," he said. "That would teach guys to keep the stick down and keep the shots down. That's why the Oilers never wore helmets in practice. Nobody ever got hurt in our practices and we practiced as hard as anybody."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press