If you don’t have thick skin, can’t take a joke at your own expense, and can’t endure being laughed at, an NHL dressing room is not the place for you. For about three years, defenceman Kyle McLaren wore a yellow visor, the result of a joke that became a superstition.
He played the first seven years of his career with the Boston Bruins (1995-2002) and then was traded to the San Jose Sharks before the 2002-03 season after a contract dispute with the Bruins. He was known more for his hard hitting and defensive play than his scoring from the blue line, but he was always a valuable asset to any team’s corps of defencemen.
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The yellow visor began as a joke. McLaren is colour blind, so before one game players changed his clear visor to a yellow one. He didn’t notice until someone asked him about it after the game, but he scored the winning goal that night and decided to keep it on. It stood him in good stead until late in the 2007-08 season when he reverted to the clear version in an attempt to change the team’s playoff fortunes.
In recent years, the Sharks have had plenty of Stanley Cup-quality talent but have never made it very far in the playoffs. McLaren’s change of visor didn’t help, however, as the team lost in six games to the Dallas Stars in the second round of the 2008 playoffs, another early exit for the team after another 100-point season (their third in four years they had 99 in 2005-06).