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Face shield? No brawler wears one

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Stan Drulia wears one out of common sense. Matthew Barnaby doesn't out of a brawler's common courtesy, even though it looked like he'd tussled with a raptor on Saturday afternoon.

As profiled last week in a long segment on ESPN's NHL2Night, whether players should be allowed or mandated to wear visors on their helmets is an issue each sees a bit differently.

For Drulia, "see" is the only word that matters. He started wearing a shield on doctors' warning after he was struck in the right eye by a puck during training camp in 1997. Drulia suffered a partially torn lens, which sidelined him for nearly two months and still affects his depth perception. He said he'd love to talk the visor off, but won't.

"It's so smart to wear one," he said. "I can't tell you how many times I've been hit with a stick or fallen into a pile and gotten a skate blade across my visor. I know it's saved me a number of times.

"Your vision is good enough to play hockey with it, no doubt, but the clarity is what's hurt."

Especially when defenseman start smearing sweating gloves in the visor. Then there's the fog and the sweat that must be cleaned after every shift.

Barnaby perhaps never had a better example of why he should wear one than after Saturday, when he took a stick blade across the bridge of his nose and into his right eye socket.

His job description won't allow it, he said.

"The job I do out there, I really can't wear one unless everyone else is wearing one," he said. "It would be pretty hypocritical.

"When I'm fighting big guys in the league, if I had a visor it would be pretty easy for me to win a lot of fights because guys would be punching away at my helmet and I wouldn't have to worry about it."

Barnaby doesn't disparage anyone wearing a shield. Drulia doesn't think it should be mandatory but wonders why more decide to take the shield off after juniors.

"There's a stigma attached," he said. Some might say "chicken" or whatever words they want to use. Look at guys like Peter Forsberg. He uses it and he plays tough."

POWERLESS: Coach John Tortorella doesn't think the Lightning has a power-play problem, he thinks it has two: an inability to set up the puck, and an apparent unwillingness to crash the net.

Not helping matters is center Vinny Lecavalier's malaise in the man advantage. The center is third on the team with five power-play goals, but has not impressed Tortorella in that area.

"Vinny hasn't done anything on the power play as far as I'm concerned," Tortorella said. "He wants the puck to come to him."

All that adds up to an 0-for-27 power-play drought. Even what Tortorella deems his best group -- Brad Richards (six power-play goals), Todd Warriner and Fredrik Modin (seven) -- has made the basic two mistakes.

"We refuse to protect the puck," Tortorella said. "If they put a stick on it or they chip it -- out. We don't have three guys around it and we refuse to protect the puck. And when we get a chance to set it up, we throw it away. Big, big problem."

SCRATCHES: Defenseman Pavel Kubina and Sergey Gusev and wing Alexander Kharitonov were Lightning scratches.

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