By Lethbridge Herald on November 2, 2023.
By Justin Seward
Western Hockey League players will be required to wear neck protection beginning today in wake of the tragic passing of former NHLer Adam Johnson over the weekend in a game in England.
Johnson’s throat was cut by an opponent’s skate and he died as a result.
The WHL made the announcement on Wednesday.
“Well, it’s very important to protect players and obviously thoughts and prayers to Adam Johnson’s friends and family,” said Bill Peters, Lethbridge Hurricanes head coach.
“These kids grow up wearing neck guards and for them to maintain that neck guard through junior hockey, I think is a sensible decision.”
Peters said it’s such a fast game now.
“Things happen so quick that if there’s any way you can wear protection — and there’s a lot of Kevlar-type cut sleeves, and wrist guards ,and socks and everything — I think you’re wise to put that equipment on.”
The Hurricanes coaching staff chatted about the neck guards on Thursday morning.
“We did chat this morning in our morning meeting with our staff and it’s all about getting the proper protective equipment in ,” said Peters.
“So obviously everybody’s working hard to get that done in as timely as we can. So hopefully that can be done quick.”
Captain Joe Arntsen was on board with the extra neck protection.
“We’re the last (league) in the CHL to do that and everybody knows what happen with that injury and everything,” said Arntsen.
“So it’s a good thing to get us wearing those just in case there is something that happens and hopefully it can prevent something from happening again.”
Forward Miguel Marques does not think there will be an adjustment period.
“No I don’t think so,” said Marques.
“We all wore it through minor hockey. It’s not that big of thing, just kind of a guard around your neck. So not really.”
Neck guards will have to be worn by players while in one-ice activities, whether that’s a game or in practice.
If not received by today, clubs will start wearing the neck guards once they’re available to them.
The WHL anticipated it to be a challenge in the delivery of the neck protection after the demand spiked after Johnson’s death.
The WHL is the last junior league to make neck guards mandatory behind the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League, who already had the set rule in place.