When hockey returns, we might all be wearing face protection

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Will we all be masked up when we return en masse to the rink?

It’s starting to look that way.

Shortly after Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch predicted the 2020-21 season would start sometime in the fall, Bauer Hockey announced its intention to launch facial protection aimed at players, coaches, administrators, on-ice officials, parents and fans this summer.

Three months ago, the company halted sports equipment production and pivoted to make more than two million medical-grade face shields to deal with a shortage affecting front-line medical professionals.

“We are so proud to have supported nurses and doctors on the front lines,” said Dan Bourgeois, Bauer’s vice-president of product innovation. “As communities begin to reopen, we will combine this experience with our hockey-specific expertise to provide protection for the hockey community and in people’s everyday lives.”


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The OHL indicated it planned to drop the puck when government and public health agencies deem it safe to do so. A number of safety protocols — including facial protection — will be part of that conversation.

“It’s a great idea that people are thinking about that already,” said longtime London Knights equipment manager Chris Maton. “I think the NHL will break the ice this summer. They’ll test the waters, we’ll all learn from them on what works and what doesn’t, and go from there.

“Until you get closer to starting, you can’t really do anything. We’re hoping by the time we get going, things will be better.”

In terms of on-ice protection, Bauer will introduce a machine-washable fabric mask and the Concept 3 splash guard that works exclusively on the Concept 3 face mask. The splash guard designed “to enhance coverage around the mouth and maintain a high level of vision and breathability.”

Off-ice protection includes an integrated cap shield that can attach to the brim of a baseball cap or be worn separately. It’s designed to provide forehead-to-chin splash coverage and has an anti-fog treatment so it can be used throughout the day as a shield while in close proximity to others.

The fabric mask is in stores and online now, while the cap shield and face mask will be available in early August.

Bauer has already partnered with Canlan to provide face protection to its staff as part of a program to reopen the company’s 49 rinks in North America.