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"It's not a fashion choice." Why Daniel Sprong is wearing a pink visor this season
The Red Wings forward explains how he came to the decision after a concussion last season in Seattle.
When the Detroit Red Wings open their season tonight against the New Jersey Devils you might notice Daniel Sprong’s pinkish-purple visor.
His teammates certainly have, and throughout training camp he’s gotten a fair amount of well-meant grief for what could be perceived as a fashion choice.
“It’s not that, if it was a fashion choice I wouldn’t be wearing a pink visor,” Sprong said. “It’s something I had to do.”
Sprong was concussed in the playoffs last season while playing for the Seattle Kraken against the Dallas Stars — publicly the Kraken only called it an upper-body injury — and while he was working to come back, potentially for Game 7 of that series, he started using a tinted visor after a suggestion from Morgan Geekie.
“As I was coming out of the protocol I tried the normal visor and I was very sensitive to light, so I tried a darker visor and I couldn’t see very well,” Sprong said. “So I tried the visor Geekie suggested and I found it really helped my eyes and with the sensitivity to arena lights.”
While training this summer Sprong continued to use the pink-hued visor and said that it’s continued to help his comfort level on the ice. When he tried to go back to a normal visor it was a struggle, so for his vision and health the un-fashionable choice was the way to go.
Sprong isn’t the first player to don a visor for concussion-related vision problems. He alluded to Geekie’s decision — which again the Kraken only classified as upper-body injury — and Matt Calvert is believed to be the first player to use the pink visor during the last season of his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche.
“I had dealt with some light sensitivity issues because of concussions and before that all the visors that were tinted were way too dark,” Calvert said over phone on Thursday. “But the pink one fit well, it kept the lights down, wasn’t too dark, and I could see better. I still have it on my helmet today whenever I get on the ice.”
Both Calvert and Sprong took grief from teammates for the visor, but also said there is a better understanding now about concussions and treating players after they happen.
Sprong’s concussion with Seattle, which he says happened on a non-malicious play against Dallas, was the first diagnosed concussion of his career. He’s not sure if he’s had one before, which is a scary thought in its own right, and while he wanted to push to play in Game 7 against Dallas, in hindsight sitting out was the right decision.
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“In the moment you want to play, you get frustrated, you want someone to just look the other way and let you play,” Sprong said. “But after the fact you look back, you realize you weren’t 100 percent and it was better for you in the long run.”
Sprong said taking the concussion decision out of the players hand is an important note here. If he had been allowed to make the decision he likely would have played, again, a scary thought now considering the long-term health implications we know about concussions.
And now five months later, Sprong will play his first NHL game since the concussion. He’ll wear a pink visor and it’s not a fashion choice.