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Mandatory visor usage to be discussed at NHL competition committee meeting

Almost three months after Marc Staal suffered a career-threatening eye injury, mandatory visor use will take centre stage at Tuesday’s NHL competition committee meeting.

Hybrid icing and goaltending equipment are also expected to be on the agenda.

A hot topic well before the New York Rangers defenceman took a puck in the eye, mandating all NHL players to wear visors is something the league office has supported for years. The Players’ Association educates its members on visors but has considered it a matter of individual choice.

That could change based on an internal NHLPA survey taken late this season. The union asked its members to weigh in on making visors mandatory for all players — those entering the league and grandfathering in current ones — or keeping it a choice for everyone. According to the NHLPA, approximately 73 per cent of players wore visors during the 2013 season, up from a Hockey News estimate of 28 per cent in 2001-02.

General managers voted in March to approve the implementation of hybrid icing, which was used experimentally in the American Hockey League during the NHL lockout. Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen suffered a broken heel bone on an icing touch-up in April, prompting more discussion about changing the long-standing rule.

Under the hybrid icing rule, players race to the faceoff dots instead of the goal-line.

Players have expressed mixed sentiments about hybrid icing, given that it is designed to prevent serious injuries but also involves making it a judgment call for linesmen.

GMs also recommended shrinking goaltending equipment, specifically leg and knee padding.

A two-thirds vote of the competition committee is needed to pass any changes on to the NHL’s board of governors and NHLPA’s executive committee.

Ron Hainsey of the Winnipeg Jets, Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks, Michael Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames and David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues will represent the NHLPA. Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenceman and special assistant to NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, will chair the meeting as a non-voting member.

The NHL hasn’t publicly announced its five team officials but they are reportedly general managers Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and Philadelphia Flyers chairman Ed Snider.