The following is the text of a letter I wrote to The Hockey News. I do not know if they will print it or not but I am hopeful that they do. I believe it raises some very importat issues.
The tragic incident that occurred on the Saturday November 7, 1998 at St. John's
Memorial Stadium could have been had Jeff Libby been wearing a faceshield. We all know
that, well everyone except Don Cherry. Wake up Don, it's the 1990's things are different,
Europeans are a huge part of this game and are here to stay. Wearing protective equipment,
such as a face shield does not make a player less of a man. All youth hockey programs all
over the world and the US College hockey system can't be wrong when they say that their
players must where a shield.
Unfortunately, Mr. Cherry seems to have an influence over all young men who play hockey in Canada that says that you're a wimp if you wear a shield. Of course Libby isn't from Canada but that doesn't mean he was saved by virtue of being an American. He doesn't wear a shield, probably largely due to Cherry's brainwashing of young Canadians.
One needs to look no further than Ray Bourque, one of the top players to ever lace the skates up in the NHL. Bourque has worn a shield for many years now and it certainly has not affected his play. Take a look at the trophy case sometime in the Bourque household if you think it has.
It's unfortunate that changes always seem to come out of tragic incidents. I hope this motivates all of professional hockey to step up and take a stand and protect their players. Faceshields in some manner should be mandatory for all players. Grandfather them if you want in the NHL as they did with the helmet rule but all players in the American and East Coast Leagues should be wearing face masks full time, starting immediately if not sooner.
How many more injuries is it going to take before the "Don Cherry mentality" leaves the game? Are injuries to Libby, Kevin Kaminski, Kevin Smyth and David-Alexnandre Beaugaurd not enough?
Contrary to what Mr. Cherry seemingly believes, he is not God. The only God hockey players should be listening to is the one that is saving their teammates in hockey. I really doubt Libby, Kaminksi, Smyth and Beaugaurd and many others who have had their careers ended by injuries to their face are spending their nights praying to Don Cherry.