USA Hockey is mandating neck laceration protection for all players under the age of 18, the latest development in the wake of the death of a player in England from a skate cut to the neck.
The new rule goes into effect Aug. 1. The decision announced Sunday comes three months after American Adam Johnson died after taking a skate blade to the neck during a game in the Elite Ice Hockey League.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has since mandated neck guards for players at all levels at the tournaments it runs.
USA Hockey’s decision comes after its congress approved the mandate, which also includes on-ice officials under 18 and any 19-year-old players at the boys, girls or junior level, at its annual meeting. The governing body for the sport in the U.S. also said it strongly recommends that adults wear neck protection.
“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.”
The NHL does not have any such mandate for players. Officials continue to discuss the issue of cut-resistant gear, which would require an agreement between the league and union.