by John McCauley
January 20, 2004
(TORONTO) -- The great visor debate is clearly going to be on the minds of the Leafs after Tuesday night's tilt with the Islanders.
Darcy Tucker was the latest casualty to an un-penalized careless high stick. He left for hospital after the game and would only meet his mates at the aiport for their flight to Washington if tests proved his eye wasn't injured.
"There's reason to believe there's a problem," head coach Pat Quinn said.
Tucker was clipped just above the orbital bone and dangerously close to his left eye. New York forward Jason Blake wasn't given a penalty for the infraction, which occurred during the second period of Toronto's 2-0 win over their Eastern Conference rival.
|Carlo Colaiacovo made his season debut for the Leafs. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
Toronto's winger was writhing in pain for close to a minute before jumping to his feet and going after the Islander forward. Nothing came of the incident and Tucker headed to dressing room for what looked like a few stitches considering his reaction. Unfortunately that wasn't the case.
The play that injured Tucker was right off a face off and should have been in plain view of at least one of the referees.
"The referees are catching some, but they're not catching enough," Quinn said. "I don't think it's incidental in some cases. These players have their sticks up there."
Owen Nolan suffered a serious eye injury when he took an accidental stick from Buffalo Sabres defenceman Jay McKee back on Jan. 3. The blow damaged his retina and two laser eye surgeries later he is still on the shelf. There wasn't a penalty call on that play either, but it was in the neutral zone in heavy traffic.
A few years back the Leafs lost defenceman Bryan Berard to a high stick. Over a year later, he returned to play with the Rangers, Bruins and now Blackhawks, but he doesn't have full vision and went through numerous surgeries to get back to the NHL.
When Quinn was asked if he would wear visor in today's NHL the veteran benchboss and former player said, "maybe the way they carry (their sticks) now I think everybody should. A lot of it is out of fear that guys have their lumber up."
Quinn was referring to players not wanting to get hit and protect themselves by getting the sticks high.
The Leafs don't just have Darcy Tucker to worry about either. Tom Fitzgerald blocked a shot in the third period and was helped to the bench by training staff after he barely made it off the ice.
X-rays after the game determined there isn't a fracture. He is doubtful for Wednesday unless the ice treatment really takes the swelling down.
NOTES: Carlo Colaiacovo suited up in his first game of the season. He replaced Ric Jackman, who was healthy scratch. Pierre Hedin has an undisclosed injury. Craig Johnson was also a healthy scratch, but will likely be in the lineup Wednesday because of the injuries.