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Neck Guards to Become Mandatory in England After Hockey Player’s Death

Starting in 2024, the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) has declared that the use of neck guards will be compulsory for “all on-ice activities.” This announcement follows the tragic passing of Nottingham Panthers forward Adam Johnson.

Johnson’s unfortunate demise occurred when he sustained a severe neck injury from a skate during a Challenge Cup match against the Sheffield Steelers on Saturday. It has been revealed that Johnson was not wearing a neck guard at the time.

In the United Kingdom, players are allowed to participate without neck guards once they reach the age of 18. The EIHA, which oversees all levels of ice hockey in England except the Elite League (the highest division of ice hockey in the UK, where Johnson played), has also strongly recommended that all players immediately start wearing neck guards. This recommendation aims to prevent such a tragic incident from recurring in the sport.

It remains uncertain whether the Elite League will adopt the guidelines put forth by the EIHA.

The EIHA explained that neck guards are not immediately made mandatory due to expected supply challenges. Additionally, they plan to conduct a comprehensive review of all player safety equipment over the next year.

Both Scottish Ice Hockey and Ice Hockey UK, which governs the Great Britain national team, already enforce the mandatory use of neck guards.

Ice Hockey UK has extended the existing recommendation by the International Ice Hockey Federation, making it compulsory for all players, at all levels, participating in GB representative teams to wear an approved Ice Hockey Neck Guard/Protector during all on-ice activities, and this mandate will remain in place until further notice. They have also committed to conducting a thorough review of player health, safety, and well-being, with the aim of preventing similar tragedies and foreseeable incidents in the future.

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