02 November 2011
After watching this past week's HNIC Hotstove, one of remarks that Ron MacLean made during the segment where they are talking about visors irked me. I am also back to not agreeing with Milbury on his statements, but that was to be expected.
I had just read a paper about the topic of visors and hockey players just a week ago and what McLean said contradicted the paper. MacLean talks about how visors change the players style of play when they wear it. You can find it here on the HNIC segment, it happens at about the 5:50 mark.
If you are too lazy to watch the segment, I've wrote out what he said:
"Once you begin to hedge your best Elliotte. Once you start to put safety first, you aren't the same player, you are not the same athlete, it's a different game. So you may not have Chris Pronger as Chris Pronger, if he dons protection and starts to turn the other cheek. That's a big issue in sport"If he dons protection, he might turn the other cheek? Chris Pronger will do this?
Now, I am not a researcher, nor am I an expert in the field, but his argument made me think of the paper that I had just read. The paper that was published is by Alberto Chong and Pascual Restrepo, who are from George Washington University and MIT respectively, and it discusses the Peltzman effect on hockey players. The paper is named "Peltzman on Ice: Evidence on Compensating Behavior Using a Natural Experiment from Ice Hockey" and can be found here if you would like to read it.
Read more after the jump...
The Peltzman effect theorizes that protective equipment will reduce the price of risky behavior and people will respond rationally by demanding more risk. Chong and Restrepo tracked data NHL players from 2001 to 2006. Here is an excerpt of what Chong and Restrepo found in their study:
Unlike most of the existing empirical evidence produced to this day, we do find that
there is significant compensating or offsetting behavior among hockey players when forced
to wear visors. We estimate that whereas the average penalty minutes per game is 0.8,
visors cause a substantial increase of 0.2 penalty minutes per game. In fact, we find that
players that wear visors play more aggressively, partially offsetting its protective effect and
creating potential spillover effects to other players. We also find that the use of a visor does
not significantly affect performance, measured by goals and assists per game. We conduct
different exercises to check the robustness of our results. In particular, we provide evidence
suggesting that our estimates are not driven by differences in adaptation as players change
leagues; or equivalently, suggesting that the equal trends assumption holds. These results are
meaningful as they imply that, contrary to common belief, mandatory use of visors do not
raise consciousness about safety. On the contrary, visors decrease the cost of unsafe skating,
which increases risk-taking and aggressiveness on the ice. In fact, some hockey commentators
have argued that skating behind a visor provides players with some sense of invincibility that
may actually lead them to skate more aggressively and recklessly. Additionally, players may
become reckless with their sticks if everyone
So what Chong and Restrepo are saying that it doesn't make you more docile, but players seemed to play more aggressively when they wore a visor. And note that the performance measure by goals and assists per game were not significantly affected by wearing a visor.
If MacLean and Milbury's argument is that visor's will cause players to not fight at all when wearing them, I don't buy that. In the WHL it's mandatory to wear visors and they still fight. In the NHL I see players with visor's fighting. Some players take it off before the fight, and some don't, but the fights still happen. A mandatory rule would most likely not change that aspect of the game. And with the evidence shown in Chong and Restrepo's paper, we can see that players with visors play more aggressively.