USA Hockey Mandating Neck Protection for Minors in Wake of Player Death

Daily Beast

January 28, 2024

USA Hockey said Sunday it will require all players under the age of 18 to wear neck laceration protection during games and practices, a change that comes after Adam Johnson’s death from a skate blade cut to the neck.

The new rule, which will also apply to all on-ice officials under 18 and any 19-year-old players at the boys, girls, or junior level, goes into effect on Aug. 1. “I know throughout our organization, the overwhelming opinion was that the time is appropriate to modify our rules related to neck laceration protection,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said. “We’re also encouraged that the hockey industry is committed to continuing to work to improve the cut resistant products that protect players to help influence the safest possible landscape for the game.”

Johnson, 29, was on the Nottingham Panthers’ roster in the Elite Ice Hockey League when he was slashed at an October game. Days after his death in a hospital, England Ice Hockey said that all players at all levels would be required to wear neck protection, a rule that went into effect this month. The National Hockey League does not currently have any such mandate for its own players.

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