Johnny Oduya didn’t have to wear a visor under the league’s new mandatory rules, but he’s sure glad he was wearing one on Tuesday night.
During Chicago’s Tuesday matchup against the Dallas Stars, the Blackhawks’ defenseman started a breakout with a pass from his own zone. Under pressure from Stars forward Ryan Garbutt, Oduya dipped a shoulder to defend himself. Garbutt was still committed to the hit but didn’t make solid contact, instead glancing off Oduya and losing his balance, which sent his right skate straight into Oduya’s face.
At least near his face, if the 32-year-old blueliner hadn’t been wearing a visor. Luckily for him, Garbutt, every fan in attendance and hockey as a whole, Garbutt’s skate slammed against the shield instead of Oduya’s grill. Still, the Blackhawks defenseman couldn’t believe he escaped unharmed, as he was seen checking himself repeatedly for cuts on the bench.
It’s difficult to imagine the severity of the injury Oduya would have sustained if he hadn’t been wearing the protective visor. Garbutt’s skate, through no fault of his own, would have hit Oduya with full force. At that speed, the concern wouldn’t be for Oduya’s playing career, it might have been for his life.
Freak plays like this indicate two things about the sport of hockey: no matter how safe the league and the players want to make the game, it is, inherently, a violent sport filled with violent events. Garbutt didn’t make a dirty play — it just happened. With that in mind, why would any player put himself in a position to be on Oduya’s end of this play without a visor?
Check out the GIF of Oduya’s near miss below.