In The department of player safety, the NHL Players’ Association has much to answer for, as does the NHL.

For last night at the Garden, when a Kimmo Timonen drive rocketed off Jakub Voracek’s blade up into the right eye of Marc Staal at 5:45 of the third period, it served as yet another reminder and another example of the insanity of not making visors a mandatory piece of equipment in the NHL.

This “personal choice” position on the issue staked out by the PA that is no more and no less a consensus of its rank and file is from another era.

Can there be anything more precious than one’s eyes; anything more critical to protect than one’s vision?

Staal went down immediately, clutching his face, writhing in agony, blood spotting the rink, before he skated immediately to the locker room. Of course the defenseman did not return in the Rangers’ 4-2 victory over the Flyers.

The fear in the aftermath of the match doesn’t concern Staal’s status for tomorrow night’s match on the Island. It is about the 26-year-old’s vision. The Rangers issued no information last night.

“I’m praying it’s not the worst,” Brian Boyle told The Post. “I said a couple of prayers [on the bench] when it happened.

“It’s scary. It makes you queasy. He’s a friend, not only a teammate.”

Boyle does not wear a visor after wearing the mandatory full-face protection at Boston College. He does not seem to be considering a change in equipment, even after last night’s frightening incident.

“This certainly would be a good argument for making visors mandatory, and I’m not saying I can come up with a good argument against it except that there are a lot of guys who just aren’t comfortable wearing them,” the center said. “I don’t know ...”

Boyle talked about the importance of players keeping their sticks down and under control, but last night was an accident.

Bryan Berard lost almost all of the vision in his right eye because of an accident in a game late in the 1999-2000 season, when his eye was clipped by Marian Hossa’s stick on a follow-through. Manny Malhotra suffered significant damage to his vision during the 2010-11 season when he was hit in the left eye by a puck off a deflection, an injury that might be career-ending.