The death of a professional hockey player is sparking a push for more safety on the ice, with some saying a simple piece of equipment could have saved his life.
Parents and pros have been on edge after an incident on the ice led to player Adam Johnson’s death, after the skate of an opposing player slashed his neck.
Hockey mom Kelly Lima brought her son to pick up a cut-resistant neck guard after seeing what happened to Johnson.
“I feel like I don’t have to worry as much about his life,” Lima told 7NEWS as she and her son Julian browsed a hockey gear shop. “I hope that keeps him from being really severely injured.”
“After the incident, my whole team is wearing neck guards and we just came today to get one,” said Julian Lima.
Demand for neck guards is surging among professional and amateur athletes.
One manufacturer says their entire stock of guards sold out in 12 hours after Johnson’s death.
Their cut-resistant fabric is made from yarn that is 15x stronger than steel.
“Youth hockey players, those kids are on the ice a lot – their skates are going all over the place,” said Jason Olden, co-founder of Warroad. “Parents are going to have some say in what the leagues do.”
Currently, USA Hockey, which governs all amateur levels of the sport, only recommends neck guards, though some states have made them mandatory.
Massachusetts is not one of them, but high school officials are discussing the issue.
“We will reiterate the recommendations that are put forth in the rules that have been there since 2015, and then we will continue to talk about it with our committees throughout the school year,” said Richard Pearson, Associate Director of the MIAA.
Professional hockey organizations are considering a mandate as well.
Former Harvard hockey player and now Providence Bruins forward John Farinacci was one of the first to wear a neck guard in a game one day after Johnson’s fatal cut.
“We wear wrist guards and tendon guards and stuff like that, so I think a neck guard is obviously one of the most important things,” said Farinacci.
He added that he feels making neck guards necessary is the right thing to do for all ages.
“Especially at a young age, I think it can get a little reckless in youth hockey,” he said. “Kids can’t control their bodies as much as us older guys. I think it’s something getting used to at a young age will help a lot of guys going forward.”
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