The former Pittsburgh Penguins player died in a freak accident during a game on Saturday in England
In the wake of Adam Johnson’s death, the English Ice Hockey Association has announced that it will require players to wear neck guards beginning next year.
Johnson, 29, who played for the Nottingham Panthers and previously for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, died in a “freak accident” in which his neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in England against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday.
“Undoubtedly, this moment in time casts a sombre shadow upon our global sporting community, serving as a stark reminder of our collective responsibilities as custodians of the sport,” the EIHA wrote in a statement.
The association continued, “The EIHA makes a 'strong recommendation' that all players at all levels across English Ice Hockey use an approved Ice Hockey Neck Guard/Protector whilst participating in all on ice activities. This 'strong recommendation' is in place until 31 December 2023, after which it will become a mandatory requirement.”
The statement concluded, “It is unacceptable for any player to lose their life while playing sport. Our responsibility is not only to avert the recurrence of such a heart-breaking accident, but also to pre-emptively address other foreseeable incidents in the future.”
While the NHL currently does not have any rules in place regarding the use of neck guards, minor league affiliates in the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League began instituting wrist and Achilles protection this season, according to The Athletic, following skate laceration incidents.
Last November, Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane suffered a deep laceration to his left wrist after falling in a collision with another player during a game. He later underwent successful surgery on his wrist.
In January 2022, Connecticut high school player Teddy Balkind died in an incident similar to Johnson’s, in which he fell on the ice during a game and was run into by another player who was "unable to stop" before the collision.
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According to The Athletic, increasing player safety standards will be on the agenda when NHL general managers meet next month in Toronto.
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