Ice hockey: Neck guards mandatory in all IIHF tournaments and Olympics

Players and officials observe seconds of silence in remembrance of the late Adam Johnson before the Adam Johnson Memorial Game between Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm in Nottingham, England, November 18, 2023. /CFP

Players and officials observe seconds of silence in remembrance of the late Adam Johnson before the Adam Johnson Memorial Game between Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm in Nottingham, England, November 18, 2023. /CFP

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Monday that it is making neck guards mandatory for all levels of competition in the tournaments it runs, including the Olympics and the men’s and women’s world championships.

Neck guards are already mandatory in the IIHF’s under-18 and under-20 tournaments, but the sport’s governing body has not set a date for the implementation at the senior level due to supply concerns.

The mandate would not apply to professional leagues, including the North American National Hockey League (NHL), which currently has no cut-proof safety requirements for players. Any sort of mandate in the NHL would require an agreement between the league and the players’ union, which have been discussing skate blade safety for years.

The IIHF’s move came after the death of American Adam Johnson, whose neck was cut by a skate blade during a game in Sheffield, England in late October. Johnson’s death at the age of 29 is being investigated, and the on-ice tragedy has sparked significant debate around the sport about the need for more protection of the neck, wrists and legs.

“The IIHF remains in close contact with its suppliers to ensure they are able to respond to the current high demand,” the organization said. “Until the rule officially goes into effect, the IIHF continues to strongly recommend that neck laceration protectors are worn by all players performing in an IIHF competition.”

Several NHL players, including Washington’s T.J. Oshie and Tampa Bay’s Cole Koepke, have donned neck guards for games this season in light of Johnson’s death.

The English Ice Hockey Association also cited supply issues when delaying the implementation of its neck guard rule for all on-ice activities until January 1.

(With input from agencies)

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *