Did a tragic event have to happen to start discussing these changes? That’s probably what many a fan, or even a hockey player, says to themselves today. The death of hockey player Adam Johnson, who died a few days ago after being hit in the neck by an ice skate, has sparked a storm of reactions calling for increased protection.
The news shook not only the hockey world on Saturday. Nottingham Panthers hockey player Adam Johnson has died after being hit in the neck by an opponent’s skate. A former attacker Pittsburgh Penguins even the quick intervention of paramedics did not save him.
Hockey history already remembers a number of cases when similar injuries occurred. Former Buffalo Sabers goaltender Clint Malarchuk in March 1989, a St. Louis Steve Tuttle. He hit the jugular vein. Malarchukov’s life was saved by the prompt intervention of trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former army medic. The goaltender survived, but developed post-traumatic stress disorder and soon had to quit playing hockey at the top level.
Tragedy on ice. Former NHL player dies after skate cuts his throat
But we don’t have to go that far into the past. He experienced something similar in 2008 Richard Zedník. The Slovakian international nearly bled to death after being hit by his own teammate Olli Jokinen’s skates. At that time, the mason kept calm, squeezed his neck tightly and managed to skate to the switchboard. From there, he was immediately escorted to the locker room, where he was given first aid, and was subsequently operated on at the hospital.
Former well-known hockey player and currently head coach of the Montreal Canadiens Martin St. Louis was there when a tragedy similar to Johnson’s happened in junior competition. Only sixteen-year-old Teddy Balkind died last January after a skate literally cut his throat.
Overseas, they also remember the recent case of the Czech player Jakub Lauk. The Boston forward almost lost an eye last week. And again after hitting the skates.
Therefore, the topic of increased protection of hockey players is logically resonating more and more in the world of hockey. “Hockey leagues around the world, including those in Canada, have rules requiring neck guards. It is disturbing that both the WHL and the NHL do not have this rule. I urge them to introduce a rule requiring a neck protector,” Canadian Minister of Sport and former Paralympian Carla Qualtrough appeals to the management of the most famous hockey competition.
Let such a tragedy not affect the sport
Maybe changes will eventually happen. The organization associating hockey clubs in the British Isles already announced a change in the rules at the beginning of this week, until the end of the year in the form of a strong recommendation, and from January 1 of next year then in the form of a binding rule. The delay is to avoid possible problems with the supply of protectors that could occur if the change were ordered immediately.
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“As in all sports, the safety of our players must come before anything else. We are determined to exhaust all resources to ensure that such a tragic event never affects our sport again,” the English Ice Hockey Association said in a statement.
Even the manufacturers of hockey equipment themselves are in favor of the introduction of mandatory neck protectors. For example, the well-known company Bauer called for this obligation across leagues of all levels.
In the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation, it is recommended that players wear neck protectors, while players playing in senior categories, but under the age of twenty, must wear suitable protective equipment.
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Finally, let’s go back to the ocean. Even in the NHL, he is perhaps looking forward to better times. The deputy commissioner of the entire competition, Bill Daly, is also inclined to increase security. “Obviously it’s something to look at. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do everything we can to keep our players safe,” respected hockey journalist Pierre LeBrun quoted Daly as saying on social network X.