TORONTO – The pre-season rules crackdown has now extended beyond hacks to the hands and feet in the faceoff circle.
During the Ottawa Senators’ 5-2 exhibition victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night, Leafs forward Leo Komarov was instructed by the officials to either lower or remove his visor.
The crash-and-bang veteran is well known for wearing his protective shield comically/riskily high up on his helmet, to the point where it guards his forehead and not much else. (Pittsburgh Penguins forward Carl Hagelin has employed a similar style.)
Komarov had a trainer remove the visor in the first period upon the referee’s demand, but said he didn’t feel safe afterward.
Komarov was not assessed a penalty for his visor, though the whistle-happy game did feature 20 penalties, including four slashes and one delay of game due to a faceoff violation.
“The ref told me they changed some rules and to keep it down,” Komarov explained. “I don’t see through it. That’s the reason I’m wearing it up there.
“So it’s not like I’m being cocky or anything. It’s how I play forever. So I took it off, but I don’t feel safe without it, so we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Komarov rocked the same tilted visor style when he played overseas, and it drew the ire of officials.
“I’m always trying to put it up,” Komarov told the Toronto Sun in April 2016.
“Some people don’t really like it, like the referees in Europe, so I had to keep it down and try [playing that way before coming to the NHL in 2012]. There’s always stuff you can do to get around it.”
In 2013, the NHL and NHLPA instituted a grandfathered rule that all rookies going forward must wear visors. More than 90 per cent of players now sport them.
Komarov said he felt awkward skating sans shield but it’s something he’ll have to get used to.
“This is what I would do if I was Leo,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said.
“I just said it to him, ‘You’ve got young kids at home. You’ve got your eyes. Pull your visor down, get used to it in practice and put it on.’ Simple.”