NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has long pushed for mandatory visors as a safety measure but had been resisted by the NHL Players Association, whose members have instead preferred leaving the use of visors as a personal choice.
But after a season in which Vancouver's Manny Malhotra and the New York Rangers' Mark Staal each suffered serious eye injuries, the players union has agreed to a deal in which veterans will be "grandfathered" in under the new rules -- allowing those who wish to continue to play without visors to do so.
Meanwhile, those with less than 26 games of NHL experience must begin wearing visors starting next season, the NHL and NHLPA announced in a joint statement.
This arrangement echoes one made in 1979 when the league first introduced the mandatory use of helmets.
Hockey players at all minor league and collegiate levels are required to wear visors, while roughly 73 percent of current NHL players already wear some sort of facial protection.