Full face shields could become mandatory for Junior A hockey players by mid-December, according to Hockey Canada.
The move would affect players in the Canadian Junior Hockey League [CJHL]which includes leagues like the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League [SJHL] and Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Head coach Kevin Kaminski of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves says he doesn’t understand the move to a full face shield as opposed to the half visor players wear now.
“I hope it doesn’t go that way,” Kaminski said.
“I think you’re going to lose some fans. I know the fighting is very limited now, but I think the fans still love a good tilt here and there,” said Kaminski, who played junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades and in the NHL with Minnesota, Quebec and Washington.
“It’s hard to wrap my head around it, that this is the way hockey is going. But like I said, as a coach, it’s out of my hands. If it happens, we’ve got to deal with it and move on. “
In a statement to CBC, Hockey Canada said this move is to increase safety in the game.
“The move to full facial protection in Junior Hockey below the Junior A level was implemented for the 2020-21 season,” a Hockey Canada spokesperson said. “This past June, the 13 members approved a playing rule change extending full facial protection under our playing rules to include Junior A.”
The new rule is supposed to be implemented no later than Dec. 15.
In a tweet SJHL Commissioner Kyle McIntyre said, “Hockey Canada notified the CJHL last Friday that full face masks must be implemented by Dec. 15, 2022.”
Having a full face shield could reduce fighting as the CJHL has automatic suspensions for anyone removing their helmet during a fight.
In the SJHL any player who deliberately removes their helmet during a fight is automatically assessed a gross misconduct penalty and a minimum one-game suspension.
Kaminski said it will take time for players to adjust to wearing a full face shield.
Kaminski feels players are taking more liberties on the ice and aren’t worried about anyone retaliating.
“There’s no more consequences if someone does a bad hit,” he said.
“No one stands up anymore… with a visor or with the full face on what are you gonna do, take your gloves off and wreck your hands?”
If the rule comes in, Kaminski would like to see it happen after the Christmas break.
“Guys can get used to it, where they go home and practice with it on…instead of putting on and you’re not adapted to it.
“There could be some repercussions with that.”
The NHL, major junior hockey leagues like the Western Hockey League and senior hockey do not require full face shields.
All minor hockey league players are required to wear full face shields.