The National Hockey League reports a 40 percent increase in high-sticking penalties during the first half of this season, with an 81 percent rise in major penalties for such violations.
The experience of the New York Islanders' Bob Nystrom, however, makes one wonder whether stricter enforcement is the answer to the rash of eye injuries.
Nystrom suffered two tears between the retina and back wall of his left eye on Jan. 5 when he was struck by the stick of teammate Gerald Diduck while playing keepaway following the conclusion of a regular practice.
Nystrom was hospitalized Jan. 14, after the swelling subsided and when it became apparent there was serious damage to the eye. Surgery was performed the following day by Dr. Thomas Muldoon, who sealed the tears.
Nystrom will learn Thursday whether the injury has healed properly and whether he can resume his career.
But his experience points up the casual way in which most hockey players regard such matters -- until they or a teammate become a victim.
At a recent practice, the Islanders experimented with racquetball goggles. They proved unsatisfactory, but Denis Potvin and Paul Boutilier decided to wear visors.
It seems likely that the NHL soon will handle the eye shield issue the way it did helmets, making either a visor or a full face mask mandatory for all players entering the league after a certain date. Merely ordering players to keep their sticks low will not solve the problem.
The NHL yesterday released the 14 additions to the Prince of Wales Conference All-Star team, selected by Philadelphia Coach Mike Keenan.
Right wing Mike Gartner was the only Washington player on Keenan's list. Making his third all-star appearance, Gartner will join teammate Rod Langway, a fans' favorite named for the sixth time, in the Feb. 4 game at Hartford.
That gives the Capitals only half of last year's representation, with center Bob Carpenter and defenseman Scott Stevens overlooked this time.
Keenan picked four Flyers to join the fans' right-wing pick, Tim Kerr. The additions were goalie Bob Froese, defenseman Mark Howe, center Dave Poulin and left wing Brian Propp.
Somewhat restricted by the requirement that each conference team be represented, Keenan named Rangers right wing Reijo Ruotsalainen as a defenseman, Islanders center Bryan Trottier as a left wing and Montreal left wing Mats Naslund as a right wing. Since Hartford center Ron Francis, another supplementary selection, suffered a broken ankle last week, presumably Keenan can straighten out most of the mess by picking a Whalers right wing as a replacement.
Others added were defensemen Mike Ramsey, Buffalo, and Larry Robinson, Montreal; center Peter Stastny, Quebec; left wing Kirk Muller, New Jersey, and right wing Mike Bossy, Islanders.
In addition to Langway and Kerr, starters chosen by the fans included goalie Mario Gosselin and left wing Michel Goulet, Quebec; center Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh, and defenseman Ray Bourque, Boston.
Edmonton Coach Glen Sather will announce his additional selections today. Five Oilers are among the six starters and Sather figures to pick a few more. Edmonton had eight players in last year's game, won by the Wales team, 6-4.
Those who watched Michigan's incredible 11-10 overtime victory over NCAA champion Rensselaer Poly on Home Team Sports the other night were looking at a rink with special meaning for Washington Capitals fans.
It was at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Oct. 3, 1974, that the Capitals won their first game, a 6-4 exhibition triumph over Detroit.